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Canmore gymnastics club donates equipment to new Belize program

An overabundance of local gymnastics equipment is getting a new home in Central America.

CANMORE – An overabundance of local gymnastics equipment is getting a new home in Central America.

The Canmore Illusions Gymnastics Club donated a variety of training equipment to the Belize National Gymnastics Federation (BNGF), which will be used to set up a new era of sport in the small country.

"We're going to use [the equipment] to start our first club," said Dov Simenauer, Illusions program director of the women's artistic gymnastics (WAG) and founder of BNGF. 

"There's no actual club. There's no equipment in Belize, there's no nothing. We're a federation without any programs, so we're hoping to start our first program there."

Previously, the youth groups learning the sport in the country located on the northeastern side of Central America would tumble in the grass or streets.

That's about to change, however, as there's an incoming parcel containing a 40-foot tumble track, six standing mats, porta pits, one high bar, two uneven bars, one adjustable bar, two BEEP boards, vault table, two pommel horses, mushroom trainer, high and low balance beam and a set of rings.

Simenaur, a well-travelled gymnastics instructor, spent three years in Belize in the Peace Corps and has been in contact with his former athletes for the past decade.

He said the materials will be set up in an indoor sports facility in Punta Gorda following the Ministry of Sport in Belize agreeing to donate the space for it.

Coming from Banff's gymnastics club, which closed its doors in 2021, Illusions absorbed the used equipment it didn't already have into its ranks and it was proposed that the leftover, unused material be donated to a worthy cause. 

"I think [Illusions] being a non-profit organization gives us the flexibility and opportunity to donate to those in need within our gymnastics community and the board members shared my belief and vision that gymnastics should be international and available to all," said Simenaur. "This is just an opportunity we thought we'd be able to help someone else who needed some equipment."

The equipment was loaded up at the Canmore rec centre on Monday (Jan. 10) and is being taken by train to Vancouver. Then will travel south by ship to Belize and is expected to arrive by April.

In order to help pay for shipping expenses, Simenaur held a silent auction, to which many local businesses contributed.

"Some of the missions of a non-profit organization should be to help out in the community and this is an international community, but it's still our community – it's the gymnastics community," Simenaur said.


Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

Jordan Small joined the Outlook in 2014 and covers the vast world of sports in the Bow Valley. A Barrie, Ont. native, he also wrote for RMO's Mountain Guide section and the MD of Bighorn beat.
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