Three years ago, Toronto’s Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs made history as the first female Canadian to win a medal at the World Championships. In recent years, this country’s medal hopes had rested on Olympians such as Stella Umeh, Yvonne Tousek and Kate Richardson, but it wasn’t until 2006 that a Canadian gymnast stood proudly on the most prestigious podium of all. Only seasoned competitors Irina Krasnyanska (UKR) and Sandra Izbasa (ROM) scored higher than Elyse’s 15.475 on the balance beam.
Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, 2006 World Championships
Elyse’s routine exudes the beam style shared by many Sport Seneca gymnasts of the past. In the next few beam routines, you’ll note the particular type of choreography and the skills (in particular the illusions, the double turns and the Homma flairs mounts, named for Sport Seneca gymnast Leah Homma) that make these beam routines distinctly Seneca.
Peng Peng Lee, 2008 Canadian National Championships
Lydia Williams, 2003 8-Country Competition in the Netherlands
Michelle Conway, 1999 World Championships
And perhaps the first from this Toronto gymnastics club to demonstrate this distinct style:
Koyuki Oka, 1988 Pacific Alliance
Now that Sport Seneca’s head coach, Carol-Angela Orchard, has left for England, it remains to be seen whether current gymnasts like Peng Peng Lee can maintain the high level of gymnastics the club has contributed to the Canadian scene over the past few decades. Peng Peng continues to train with former Sport Seneca coach Brian McVey at Discovery Gymnastics.