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Two Sault gymnasts land spots in elite Tennessee training camp

'I’m super proud of both of them': Ava Greener, 12, and Peyton O’Brien, 10, earned their way to exclusive training camp after strong showings at NGA Championships in Anaheim

Ava Greener and Peyton O’Brien of the Sault Ste. Marie Gymnastics Club will be taking part in the National Gymnastics Association (NGA) National Select Team training camp in Crossville, Tennessee Oct. 3 to 5.

It will be O’Brien’s first time at the camp, the second time for Greener.

“It feels pretty good to be going back again. It gives you a lot of experienced coaches to help you build your skills and your confidence,” Greener told Douglasfosterbooks.

Both girls will be accompanied by Kim O’Brien, Peyton’s mom and Sault Ste. Marie Gymnastics Club head coach.

“It gives them the opportunity to work with really top-end coaches, to learn new skills and increase their skills for the following season,” O’Brien said. "It’s really nice to give them the opportunity to work with other coaches. Sometimes they have different drills and different aspects to teaching a skill. It’s nice for them to have a variety of coaches rather than working with one all the time. I’m all for networking with other coaches for all my athletes. It’s so beneficial.”

12-year-old Greener and 10-year-old O’Brien earned their way to the training camp after winning several medals at the NGA Championships held at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California June 7 to 12.

Greener won three bronze medals — one each in vault, floor exercise and uneven bars — and took gold on the balance beam in Anaheim. She came in third all-round in her age category and 10th out of 156 athletes in her Platinum division.

Though Greener is from Sault, Michigan, five athletes — Greener, O’Brien, Ivy Mooney, Reagan Deschamps and Daiveny Pringle — competed for the Sault Ste. Marie Gymnastics Club as the only Canadian club in Anaheim.

“It was cool to see where everyone else was from,” Greener said, adding that the balance beam is her favourite element of gymnastics.

O’Brien won bronze medals in uneven bars, floor exercise and the balance beam and took silver in vault. She came in fourth all-round in her age category and 16th out of 256 athletes in the Gold division.

“I felt nervous but excited at the same time,” said O’Brien, who considers the uneven bars her favourite part of gymnastics.

Greener and O’Brien placed in the Top 25 overall in Anaheim, earning them the right to attend the NGA National Select Team training camp in Tennessee in October.

Getting a chance to do some sightseeing, both young athletes said they enjoyed seeing the Hollywood sign, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Disneyland and the Santa Monica Pier while in California.

Coach O’Brien said she sees a bright athletic future for daughter Peyton and Greener.

“Both their dreams and hopes are to get U.S. college scholarships. It’s a long way ahead but you’ve got to start now. They’re always watching gymnastics on TV. We went to three college meets this year. I’m super proud of both of them.”

O’Brien said that after October’s training camp in Tennessee her athletes will be aiming to do well at the next NGA Championships in Virginia Beach, Virginia in June 2025.

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Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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