Henry Condor

Saltos welcomes new head coach

The Saltos Gymnastics Club has welcomed a new face into its midst.

The Saltos Gymnastics Club has welcomed a new face into its midst.

Henry Condor has been named the head coach of the club and started the position last week.

“I hope to bring my enthusiasm and passion about gymnastics,” he said in an email. “I want to create a strong, professional team of coaches, which will produce high-level athletes for B.C. and Canada.”

Condor has 18 years of coaching experience under his belt, having started gymnastics in a small town in the Ukraine when he was just seven years old.

But he admitted, he wasn’t quite sure what the sport entailed at first.

“My coach met me on the street on my way from the grocery store (I was carrying bread and milk),” said Condor. “He asked me [if] I like gymnastics. I answered ‘yes’, but frankly I had no idea what it was and I remembered how I called my mom’s work place and proudly said that I was invited to the gymnastics club. Since that day, I have really loved gymnastics.”

He moved to Canada 10 years ago and was living in the Lower Mainland with his wife and two kids prior to moving to northern B.C.

“When I was a kid, I watched a TV series called Due South and was amazed by the personality of RCMP officers from Canada,” he said. “Later, I heard more and more good things about friendly Canadians . . . and of course, there was no doubt for us to move to Canada.”

Condor made one of his first trips to Smithers earlier this month when he accompanied former Saltos head coach Alana Jensen to help with a training camp over the Thanksgiving weekend.

“He responded very well to the kids and the kids responded very well to him,” said the club’s Becky Stavast.

“He was very interactive with the kids and they liked him right away.”

He has already introduced new drills and training techniques.

“He’s going to bring lots of great gymnastics knowledge and skills,” said Stavast. “I think he’s going to be a good role model for our up and coming coaches.”

While Condor’s passion for the sport is clear, he said it’s the look on an athlete’s face after performing well that he enjoys the most.

“I feel proud when I see happy kids’ faces when they hold their gold medals on a podium,” he said.

Condor replaces Jensen who moved to Maple Ridge at the end of the summer to teach gymnastics at Flip City in Langley.