Erica Devereaux is not even of legal age, but she still jokingly refers to herself as the “grandmother” in her Cygnus Gymnastics Club.
A university student who turns 19 in a month’s time, Devereaux is the experienced one in a gym full of high school and junior high kids. And she knows she’s nearing the end of a career in a sport where a 19-year-old is considered a grizzled veteran, a veritable Gordie Howe of the balance beam.
So if the Logy Bay native is looking to finish off gymnastics sometime soon with a bang, Devereaux got the big news this week when she learned she’s one of five Canadian gymnasts selected to represent the country in the World University Games slated for July in Kazan, Russia.
Devereaux’s travelled all across the country competing, and has even been to Florida twice, but this, she says, takes the cake.
“I got a message from a coach in Nova Scotia (David Kikuchi) and he said there was one girl injured and unable to make the trip,” Devereaux explained. “He was checking out my results at nationals last year (in Regina, Sask.) and decided to call.
“That isn’t something I was expecting and naturally it’s very exciting.”
Devereaux is one of several Newfoundland gymnasts representing the province at the Oceanex Eastern Canadian championship which opens today at the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Centre in St. John’s.
Competing since she’s seven, Devereaux has attended nationals — she will head to a third Canadian championship the end of the month in Ottawa — Eastern Canadians and “countless” Atlantics.
She also represented Newfoundland at the 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax and two years ago this month became the first female gymnast from this province to win a gold medal at the Eastern Canadians when she turned in a first-place performance in her national open division floor routine.
So she’s very good, obviously.
“My best friend was in gymnastics,” she said, “and she wanted me to join. I was seven-years-old and after the first day, they wanted me to try pre-competitive.
“A year later I was competing.”
Devereaux hopes to study engineering at Memorial University, and had even planned on taking a few courses this summer which would help her achieve a spot in the faculty. But those plans have come to a screeching halt with the news she’s heading to Russia.
“This is the highest-calibre competition I’ve been to, or even thought about getting to,” she said. “It’s cool competing anywhere, but to go to a place like Russia, where gymnastics is so high profile, is something else.
“I can travel to the U.S. any time I want. It’s not too often you’re getting to Russia.”
Devereaux is one of a number of Newfoundland gymnastics from the Cygnus Gymnastics in St. John’s, Campia Gymnastics Club in Mount Pearl, Airials club from Gander and Corner Brook’s Saltos Gymnastics Club representing the province at the 2013 Oceanex Eastern Canadians which get under way with the opening ceremonies 9:45 this morning.
The meet, which also includes Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I., Quebec and Ontario, winds up 4:15 p.m. Saturday with the awards final.