This August, I traveled to Cambridge, Ontario to visit the team at Dynamo Gymnastics, where two-time Olympic gold medalist, two-time world medalist, and International Gymnastics Hall of Fame member Elvira Saadi coaches a group of teenage elites and elite hopefuls.
Saadi is known for coaching several Canadians to the Olympic Games, including Yvonne Tousek and Crystal Gilmore in 1996 and 2000. Leading up to London 2012, Saadi coached Victoria Moors and Madeline Gardiner at another Cambridge club, but when Moors’ parents, Chris Moors and Lisa Rutledge, decided to open a gym of their own, Saadi was instantly on board.
The name Dynamo actually comes from Saadi’s club in the former Soviet Union, where the Moscow sports club has produced top elite athletes since the 1920s. The gymnastics program began at Dynamo in 1974, and Saadi was one of the school’s first pupils, competing with the club and then accepting a coaching position there once retired.
Saadi moved to Canada in 1991, and spent twenty years at Cambridge Kips before joining Moors and Rutledge to create a leadership trio that attracted dozens of gymnasts, with the club immediately booming into one of the largest and strongest Canadian programs for recreational and competitive gymnastics.
After Victoria retired in 2015, she eventually decided to take up coaching, just in time for her younger sister Brooklyn’s decision to take up elite. Dynamo also brought in one of Canada’s all-time best double mini competitors, Denis Vachon, to lead the tumbling and trampoline program in addition to assisting Saadi with her elite squad.
This mix of coaches, gymnasts, and owners makes for a club that’s not only competitive, but also so much fun, you wouldn’t believe any work could get done ever. And yet Brooklyn Moors just put up Canada’s best finish on floor in her country’s history at world championships last week, Emma Spence placed in the top eight in the all-around and on three events at the Junior Japan International in September, Jessica Dowling, a former Dutch elite, was a member of Canada’s Universiade team this summer, and both Megan DiPietro and Madison Hughes are up-and-comers on the elite scene, with Megan finishing 12th at nationals this summer and Madison hoping to qualify elite this year.
During our visit, Alex and I spent three days getting to see why Dynamo Gymnastics is already one of Canada’s top programs only six years in, and you’ll get to see the club through our eyes in a series of videos we’ll be releasing in the coming weeks.
For now, we’re excited to share with you a little video of some of the girls hanging out in the pit, talking about gymnastics, their coaches, Dynamo, each other, and just about everything else. We hope you enjoy this little teaser as we continue prepping for the release of our first video!
From left to right, that’s Mady, Brooklyn, Megan, and Emma. These four will be the focus of the upcoming videos…some of the other Dynamo girls were dealing with injuries during our visit, and Jessica was already in Taipei with the Universiade team when we arrived (though she was always a text away from her Dynamo coaches while gone).
Article by Lauren Hopkins
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