In a few days, Ottawa gymnast Philopateer Malek will compete in the Trampoline Gymnastics World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan.
What’s even more impressive is that he will be the only Canadian in his field to attend the event.
Malek, 18, started gymnastics at the age of seven. Two years ago, he decided to focus on power tumbling, and it paid off.
“This will be my first international competition,” Malek says. “Every skill must be connected, back to back.”
Malek has transformed the skills he learned from the floor routine into power tumbling, which he says is much more intense.
“You do double flips and then you have to hook it up and somehow keep your strength to bounce back up,” Malek says. “This allows you to push your limits, because it is a lot more resilient. So you see guys doing the utmost skill that a tumbler could do.
A world medalist in tumbling himself, Michael Chaves has coached Malek at Rideau Gymnastics in Kanata, preparing him for his biggest competition yet.
“He is a hard worker. He deserves this,” Chaves said. “He’s had such an interesting journey, I would say, because of all the lockdowns and setbacks. Every time he’s been able to get back into the gym, he’s used his time here so well.”
Chaves says it’s very rare to make it to the Trampoline World Championships after just two years of training in the sport.
And Malek has a chance to take home some hardware.
“I know that with his execution and his level of difficulty, he could definitely make it to the finals at this world championship,” said Chaves.
“If I get my routines, the toughest I can, and I’m as clean as I can be, maybe I can get through and get into the finals,” Malek says.
By training five days a week, three hours a day for two consecutive years, Malek has reached this point, days away from the biggest leg of his gymnastics career.
The championships will take place from November 18 to 21.