Vernon's Okanagan Rhythmic Gymnastics needs a taller building to properly train its elite athletes

Club wants to raise the roof

While the North Valley Gymnastics Club rebuilds after a devastating fire, another area gymnastics club is raising the roof – literally.

Vernon-based Okanagan Rhythmic Gymnastics is holding a fundraiser to raise the roof of its building to better serve it students.

Founded by former Commonwealth Games competitor and Olympian Camille Martens, ORG is hailed as one of the top rhythmic gymnastic clubs in Canada, producing more than 20 world-class athletes since it began operating in 1997.

Effective Jan. 1, 2022, the rule book for international level gymnastics requires higher tosses of the apparatus, meaning without a high toss, athletes will not be awarded points, which will greatly impact their final score and placement.

This means the bare minimum height of a toss for some of the ORG athletes is approximately 23 feet. The current indoor gym height is 18 feet.

“Our ceiling seems high to many onlookers, but with the new rules, our athletes simply can’t meet the requirements with the current ceiling height. We rent the Priest Valley Gym or recreation centre auditorium when we can, but we really need all our athletes to have the opportunities to learn higher tossing techniques and to train them daily,” said Martens.

“We will need to apply for a variance with the RDNO and are hoping to get a few ideas from engineers/architects on ways that we could raise the roof with the shortest possible time without a facility. This community has always rallied to support its athletes. I am excited to see how we can collaboratively create this possibility for these dedicated and talented gymnasts.”

Saturday, Nov. 27 at 3 p.m., ORG will have a display at the Performing Arts Centre showcasing pre-competitive, competitive and elite-level athletes.

“The 75-minute display will include a demonstration of how the current ceiling limits our tosses and how a higher ceiling would change everything for our team. If any supporters, architects, engineers, city or regional district officials would like free tickets, please contact us as we’d love to have you in the loop as we embark on this project,” said Martens.

More Vernon News