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Gymnast makes history for Delta club with Team BC breakthrough

Lila Bulka is the first female gymnast from the Ladner club to represent her province at the Canada Winter Games

Lila Bulka leaves this week for her history-making trip to Prince Edward Island.

The 16-year-old has become the first-ever female athlete from Delta Gymnastics to earn a spot on Team BC for the 29th edition of the Canada Winter Games. This prestigious multi-sport competition only happens every four years.

Bulka clinched her trip on her home mats when Delta Gymnastics hosted the second stage of the team trials.

“The first trial was in December and it went better than I thought it would actually. So that qualified me to compete here and it definitely helped being used to the equipment and also having my teammates here to cheer me on,” smiled Bulka, who typically trains five days a week at the Ladner facility under Jen Dober, Delta Gymnastics Women’s Competitive Program Coordinator.

Bulka is no stranger to out of province competition.

She was a member of B.C.’s gold medal winning team at the 2022 Western Canadian Championships in Winnipeg last spring when she moved up to the provincial level of competition (CCP 10) in artistic gymnastics for the first time. However, her Canada Winter Games trip was hardly a certainty.

The trials were unique in that they featured gymnasts of all ages and levels.

“It was definitely different,” continued Bulka. “There were gymnasts from other levels mixed in with my levels, so there were new people I was competing against.”

Beam is her specialty, having won silver in the individual events at Westerns. Her busy 2022-23 competitive season so far has included a couple of trips to Hawaii where Bulka gained plenty of international experience against gymnasts from Japan, Australia, New Zealand and across the U.S.

It certainly paid off with her Team BC spot. Now it’s making sure she is in peak form in PEI.

“We adjust their conditioning and their work load and stuff depending on what they have coming up,” explained Dober. “The international trips to Hawaii were a great experience competing in big competitions leading up to the trials. Then we kind of had to chill out a bit before building her back up.

“In an event like the Canada Winter Games, when it’s not training or competition time, there’s a lot of other cool things to do that are kind of stress release. Just checking out other sports. Stuff like that is really cool.”