Cameron Davis admits he wasn’t very good when he started competitive gymnastics five years ago.
While others may have packed it in, Davis stuck with it and continued to progress.
He won two silver medals and a bronze at the Eastern Canadian championships in 2018 and has made Team P.E.I.’s squad for the Canada Games in Red Deer, Alta.
In fact, he will lead the Island contingent into tonight’s opening ceremonies as Prince Edward Island’s flag-bearer.
Davis called it surreal to think how far he has come in four years.
“Then, the Canada Games wasn't really even a consideration. Now, here I am, going to the Canada Games and also being the flag-bearer,” he said. “It’s still kind of crazy to say it out loud.”
Coach C.J. Keliher said he could not have foreseen the level of progress Davis has made in the past year.
“To watch him grow and blossom into the gymnast that he’s become has really been a wonderful experience,” he said.
To see the fruits of his labour makes Davis smile.
“You’re accomplishing a long-term goal or dream or whatever you want to call it,” he said.
What makes many others smile is finding out Davis has achieved it all while living with cystic fibrosis (CF).
He was diagnosed with the disorder, which affects both his pancreas and his lungs, as an infant. He takes pills to help digest fat or protein and uses a mask hooked to what he described as a miniature air compressor that enables him to inhale medicine to assist with the buildup of mucus in his lungs.
Davis said being active in gymnastics has assisted him with his CF.
“I feel like it really helps me both with keeping my lungs in shape as well as keeping my body ready for the endurance,” he said. “We train 18.5 hours a week to go and compete for two minutes at a time, six times over the span of three hours.
“It’s just kind of prepping for go-time.”
Davis doesn’t complain and carries himself with a level of maturity beyond his years.
“He’s a hard worker, he’s got a good attitude, he’s a good teammate, he’s a good leader – he’s just a great presence to have in the gym,” Keliher said.
Davis is also a coach and a provincial-level judge. In addition, the honours student at Colonel Gray High School has received pre-acceptance to attend UNB in the fall to study software engineering.
“I’m super excited,” he said. “I’ve been pretty interested in the cyber security space, and UNB is regarded as the cyber security hub of eastern Canada.”
Davis is appreciative of Keliher’s guidance.
“Words cannot describe how thankful I am for him taking me in and teaching me and helping with all my gymnastics,” he said.
He also said it wouldn’t have been possible without the love and support of his parents and the assistance of the CF team at the IWK in Halifax.
During a recent trip to the Island Gymnastics Academy, many of Davis’ clubmates congratulated him for the honour of being the province’s flag-bearer. Davis completes his practice as others work on their routine.
On this night, there are more girls than boys competing. It is common to have more females at gymnastics competitions then males, but Davis said it does have its positives.
“Because it’s small, the community is very tight-knit. All the guys know each other, and all the guys always cheer one another.”
Having Davis leading Team P.E.I. is great opportunity for the sport.
“It’s a great honour for Cameron and it’s a great honour for men’s gymnastics,” Keliher said. “I think this is wonderful for us to kind of have a little bit of spotlight, and to have such a great young man representing gymnastics and Prince Edward Island by being flag-bearer it’s wonderful.”
He said society is evolving, the sport is getting more recognition and the recreation program continues to see growth on the boys’ side.
Need to know
Who – A gymnast from the Island Gymnastics Academy and Team P.E.I.’s flag-bearer for tonight’s opening ceremonies at the Canada Games.
Age – 18.
Hometown – Charlottetown.
Parents – Paula Clark and Pat Davis.
Did you know? Davis completed a sport credit through Sport P.E.I. this year.
Goal for the Games: “Everybody always says what an experience Canada Games is, I’m just hoping to get the most out of it.”
Flag-bearer – Davis is the third Island Gymnastics Academy member to be a Team P.E.I. flag-bearer. Scott Chandler had the honour in 1991 and Chris Morgan in 2011.