Penticton man skips to world stage
Thomas Cunningham’s jump rope skills have taken him to Halifax, Moncton and Victoria.
Now the member of the Black Widow Rope Spinners is skipping his way overseas to Hong Kong for the World Championships July 26 to Aug.5 with Team Canada.
“Going overseas will be a whole new experience and should be awesome,” said Cunningham, 18, who has been rope jumping for 10 years. “It’s really exciting. It means everything to me. It’s still kind of surreal.”
Cunningham, who overcame the pressure of his fellow rope jumpers chasing the same goal, earned his way by placing third overall in nationals held in Abbotsford in May.
“It was stressful and I didn’t want to mess up too bad,” said Cunningham, who has competed nationally eight times, but is making his debut on the world stage in the Hong Kong Coliseum.
Cunningham jumped into the sport because of his mother, Cathy Cunningham, coach for the Black Widow Rope Spinners. Cunningham loves that the sport offers team and individual aspects.
“My favourite part is the solo stuff,” he said. “I can create my own routine. Go as hard as I can. I just find that really entertaining.”
Cunningham loves freestyle in which rope jumpers perform their favourite tricks for one minute, 15 seconds. To learn and improve, Cunningham watches YouTube videos and imitates the athletes he has watched.
Cathy has been impressed by her son’s progress saying he’s worked very hard.
“A few years ago he decided he wanted to go to worlds,” she said, adding that Cunningham does gymnastics to get better.
Cathy said for their club, which formed 10 years ago, to have someone place third nationally is awesome.
“He has worked hard on compulsory events,” she said. “He jumps very high. He works at perfecting his tricks. If everything goes well, he should do fairly well. I think he is aiming to come about middle of the pack among 40 to 50 jumpers.”