By Pam Wheaton — Special to The Star
© Andrea Barrett photo
Robert Naim hard at work at the Saltos gym.
CORNER BROOK Thirteen-year-old Robert Naim may be new to the area, but he is no newbie when it comes to gymnastics.
His experience and natural talent showed during performances while competing in the Atlantic Gymnastics Championships at Cape Breton University’s Sullivan Field House this past weekend. Robert was among a total of 287 athletes competing and was the only male to bring home a gold medal and a shiny new trophy in the Level 1 12-and-over category.
Robert competed with other male athletes in floor, vault, pommel horse, high bar and rings.
“It’s something he’s always been interested in,” said Rick Naim, Robert’s father. “All the hours, all the driving to practices and travelling to competitions is all worthwhile when your child is doing something he loves.”
Robert said it’s largely the support of his parents and now his new friends on the Saltos team that allow him to succeed. After moving from Toronto to Corner Brook in August 2012, Robert said he wanted to get involved in the local club as soon as he could.
“I was on a team in Toronto too for three years,” he said. “It was great to be able to join the Saltos team, get to know new people and make new friends here.”
Not only did Robert get to compete in an Atlantic competition only 9 months after moving to the area, but he also had the opportunity to see and experience Nova Scotia for the first time.
“I was a bit nervous during the competition,” he said. “But it was great to be there for the first time and it felt really good to win the gold medal. It felt great to compete with my teammates too, it was fun.”
Dad went along for the trip and beamed with pride as his son took the podium to accept his medal.
“I believe I was more nervous than him,” he said. “But it was amazing. The teams from Newfoundland and Labrador and the Saltos team, they took first and second places and it was amazing to see.
“They were competing against all these big clubs with big, expensive equipment and for the Corner Brook club to have won big throughout the competition, it was great to see.”
Not only is Robert’s family impressed with his athletic talents, but his Saltos coach Evan Brake was also proud of Robert’s accomplishments this past weekend.
“I have been coaching Robert for eight months, and we have grown to know each other inside and out,” said Brake.
“Training 16 hours a week while still attending school, Robert is truly dedicated to his gym and the sport of gymnastics.
“He has progressed a long way. It is great to see that his hard work and dedication over the past months has proven itself. I am really proud of what we have accomplished and excited to see how far we can truly progress.”