Still four months shy of her 14th birthday, Lucia Jakab is already on Gymnastics Canada’s radar for the 2020 Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo.
A member of the Okanagan Gymnastics Centre, Lucia was named last month to the Canadian national junior team, the top developmental program for the sport’s up-and-coming athletes.
The 13-year-old from Lake Country recently returned from Sarnia, Ont., where she and eight other young artistic gymnasts spent a week training together at the 2020 Olympic Hopefuls camp.
“We tried to learn new skills and we showed our abilties to other coaches,” Lucia said. “It was good to get a different point of view from other coaches.”
Lucia took up recreational gymnastics at OGC in Kelowna at the age of eight, then began competing two years later. According to her mom, Tatiana Jakab, Lucia has been a quick study in her chosen sport.
“She grew into it very fast,” Tatiana Jakab said of Lucia’s abilities in the gym. “Originally, she didn’t enjoy the competition that much, she’s still adjusting but it’s getting better. Last year was her first year competing internationally, so she’s still finding her way.”
Lucia made her breakthrough on the international stage this spring, placing seventh out of 20 competitors at Gymnix in Montreal.
Then in May, at the Canadian Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Montreal, Gymnastics Canada really stood up and took notice when Lucia won a silver medal in the vault.
Weeks later, she had a spot on the national team.
“I was kind of speechless,” said Lucia, who is coached locally by Sergei Chelest. “It felt great to be picked for the team.”
As for the prospects of one day competing for Canada at the Olympic Games, it’s an enticing thought for Lucia but not one plans to focus on in the near future.
“I think about it a little bit,” Lucia said, “but right now my first goal is to keep competing, keep improving and get a scholarship.”