Haley de Jong used her small stature to her advantage flipping to the top of the podium.
At only about three-foot-seven it's sometimes difficult to spot de Jong among her peers, until the 12-year-old national high-performance novice gymnast from North Vancouver's Flicka Gymnastics Club dives into her gymnastics routines. de Jong won four gold medals at the 2013 B.C. Artistic Gymnastics Championship, awing Saturday's audience at the Charles Jago Northern Sport Centre with her breathtaking artistry.
"It's easier to flip around and do more skills," said de Jong about her tiny frame. "You just curl up in a little ball and go for it."
de Jong won the all around with a score of 54.400. The silver medalist, Seina Murase-Cho of Omega Gymnastics Club in Coquitlam, posted a 50.100 score and Lauren Wang of Club Aviva, also in Coquitlam, took the bronze medal with a 48.600.
The nine gymnasts in the national novice category and the 17 women in the national open group are the frontrunners, for now, to make Team B.C. for the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George.
In the national open, Ashlynn Skulstad (Twisters Gymnastics, Lower Mainland) earned the all-around gold (51.250) and also took gold on floor (13.800) and beam (13.050), while Itzia San Roman (Vancouver's Phoenix Gymnastics) won silver in the all around (50.100) and picked up three bronze medals on vault (13.700), bars (11.200) and floor (13.650). The all around bronze medalist was Andry Friesen (Twisters) with a score of 50.000. Friesen earned also earned gold on bars (12.250).
The gold medalist on vault for the national open women was Maya Rahn (Lions Pride, Victoria) with a 14.250. Rahn was one of the few gymnasts to add a couple twists in her vault.
Taylor Oakley of Flicka was fourth in the all around (48.000) and tied for gold on floor with Skulstad, while Jordan de Jong (Haley's 14-year-old sister) tied for fifth in the all around (47.450) with Brianne Kerr of Lions Pride.
The de Jong sisters started training at Flicka two weeks before the provincial championship, leaving another club in the Lower Mainland because they "needed a change" according to Haley.
"It took a lot of focus and adjustments to make sure I was safe doing all my skills but I thought it went pretty well," said Haley de Jong.
The next gymnastics competition for Haley will be May 3-5 in Winnipeg at the Western Canadian Championship and then she's off to Ottawa, May 21-27, for the Canadian championship for the second straight year.
"Last year I did my routines as best I could but it's just my skill level wasn't as high as the other gymnasts," she said about competing at the 2012 nationals.
In addition to capturing the all-around title Saturday, Haley de Jong also took gold in floor (14.450), beam (13.700) and bars (13.350) and placed fifth on vault (12.900). Omega's Murase-Cho was golden on vault (13.900) and also finished second on bars (12.150) and third on floor (12.550).
There were about 550 men's and women's gymnasts competing at the Northern Sport Centre on the weekend during the B.C. championship, which was also a test event for the 2015 Canada Winter Games.