On top of the world – Kamloops wunderkid gymnast a global force

2015-DEC-8-Gavin-Dodd-FEAT-300x160By: Marty Hastings in Gymnastics, Sports December 9, 2015

“It took a while for it to kick in, the excitement, until after the award ceremony. It actually kicked in that, wow, I actually just won world age groups.” — Gavin Dodd of the Kamloops Gymnastics and Trampoline Centre

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Gavin Dodd displays the hardware he won.

It felt like hours.

Gavin Dodd had finished his last double-mini trampoline pass at the 24th International Gymnastics Federation Trampoline Gymnastics World Age Group Competition in Odense, Denmark, on Saturday.

Judges deliberated.

Spectators whispered.

Gavin waited and wondered as he walked back toward his Canadian teammates — would he be crowned the 11-and 12-year-old world age group champion?

The difficulty was there. He caught plenty of air. He stuck the landing. The pass was good.

But, was it good enough for gold?

Among the hundreds looking on, hearts planted firmly in throats, were father Graham, mother Diane and sister Kristina.

They waited and waited and waited some more.

Then, in one flash of the scoreboard, the Kamloops Gymnastics and Trampoline Centre wunderkind knew his fate — 32.5 on his final pass, bringing his total to 65.9, well clear of the Russian and British high-flyers who tied for second with 64.2.

Gavin had jumped his way to the top of the world.

“It was really overwhelming to look up on the screen and see first place beside my name,” said Gavin, his proud father piping in on the speaker-phone conversation with KTW from Hamburg, Germany.

“You’re like, ‘Wow, you did it. You did what the goal for everyone is to do,’” Gavin said.

“It took a while for it to kick in, the excitement, until after the award ceremony. It actually kicked in that, wow, I actually just won world age groups.”

The Dodds screamed down from the stands and caught Gavin’s eye for a brief moment, in which he was able to escape mobbing teammates and acknowledge his family with a wave.

“It’s very emotional,” Graham said, his son having bested 20 competitors from around the globe to place first. “I was quite surprised at how emotional it felt. I was incredibly proud. It literally brought tears to my eyes.”

The age group championships, for athletes ages 11 to 17, are held in conjunction with the 18-and-over Trampoline Gymnastics World Championships, which take place a week prior in the same venue.

Gavin stood atop the podium and watched and listened as the Maple Leaf was raised and O Canada was played.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Graham said. “I’m trying to take pictures. I’m trying to record. I’m trying to wipe tears out of my eyes. Up until now, Gavin has been a big fish in a small pond and, now, he’s a small fish in a big pond and, really, where was he going to sit? Canada hasn’t sent a lot of 11- and 12-year-olds to worlds. You just didn’t know how it was going to go.”

It started poorly for Gavin, who let nerves get to him in the trampoline event on Thursday, when he finished 23rd, although what transpired that day prepared him for the double-mini competition.

He finished with a sub-standard score of 36.06 in his compulsory routine, unable to overcome anxiety brought on by performing in the tension-filled atmosphere.

“In trampoline, the nerves got to me in one routine and the redemption came in my second routine,” Gavin said. “I learned how to cope with the nerves and that helped me through double-mini.”

The acrobat nailed his optional routine for a score of 46.705 and vaulted into 23rd place from 40th, his finishing position much less important than the confidence he gained from the rebound.

Dodd in Action

Dodd in action in Denmark.

Gavin led from start to finish in the double-mini event, matching scores of 33 the best of each qualification round, and scores of 33.4 and 32.5 tops among all comers in the final passes.

A Type 1 diabetic, the blossoming gymnast is no stranger to challenges.

“As long as you try to keep your diabetes in control, you can do anything you want,” said Gavin, a Juniper Ridge elementary student who will have to catch up on homework.

“We didn’t know about the nerves and excitement and adrenaline and how they affect your [blood-sugar] number, but now we recognize the bigger the competition, the more the number can go up and down.”

The Dodds continued on their tour of Germany this week, visiting family on Diane’s side and decompressing from the stress of worlds.

Next up on Gavin’s big-event competition list is nationals in June, but he already has one eye on the Indo-Pacific Trampoline and Tumbling Championships in October in New Zealand, home to family on Graham’s side.

Kristina, 14, is no slouch herself, a national-level trampolinist aiming to join her brother at the Indo-Pacific competition next fall.

Graham, a doctor, has watched his son overcome diabetes and soar to world-beating heights — and there’s reason to believe Gavin’s journey can culminate in a stop at the Olympics.

“Is this just the beginning?” Graham said. “I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter. All you want as a parent is for your kids to do the best they can and see what happens. We’re just incredibly proud.”

See it for yourself

A gold winning performance by Gavin Dodd