Local Emma O'Keefe is only 11 and is already headed to the global stage after her acro gymnast skills impressed judges and organizers alike.

Emma in her gear

After a recent performance at the Canadian Gymnaestrada in Edmonton, Emma and the Calgary Acro team were chosen to represent Canada in the 2023 World Gymnaestrada, an event that only takes place every four years. Soon, Emma will be performing in Amsterdam alongside an expected 20 000 gymnasts from across the world.

While we don't have all the details yet, Emma and Calgary Acro are already working hard to be competition ready for such a big stage. The event is open to all gymnastics but being selected to represent Canada on the world stage is a unique honor and opportunity for the team at Calgary Acro.

Emma began her gymnastics journey at Calgary Acro and she instantly fell in love with the sport. Her father Corey O'Keefe explains the best part of his daughter's involvement in gymnastics has been seeing her grow.

“Everybody else in the group that's participating in this really seems to come alive when they're performing their activities. You can see it, you can see it on their faces as soon as they start and as soon as they hear the people in the audience getting excited, they get excited. For someone who had been traditionally pretty shy, that's a pretty remarkable personal breakthrough for her.” 

Emma's mother Dr. Zulma Poveda has been with her every step of the way as her interest and skills in gymnastics grew and is happy to see her growth.

“She's happy and she's more confident and I have seen it helps with caring for other people and participating as a team and being more responsible for her team. So she has more discipline… She started in Strathmore at the dance club and then she did some cheerleading here. She started maybe when she was four years old and now for the last two years, we decided to take her to Calgary Acro and that is how she is at a more competitive level now,” .

Emma is ecstatic to join her teammates on the trip and stated that one of her favorite parts of acro gymnastics is working with a team.

“I really like doing all the stuff that I saw on TV. I joined it and I loved it, you got to do more tricks with people. You got to stand on them and it's kind of a mix with gymnastics. Gymnastics has nothing that you do with partners.” 

With a clear passion for her sport and an already impressive two years of progress and development under her belt at Calgary Acro, it isn't hard to see the World Gymnaestrada in 2023 being just another stepping stone on a long and fruitful career in gymnastics for Emma and her team. 

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