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Carmen Whelan leads at Canadian Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships

Carmen Whelan finished strong on day one of competition at the 2017 Canadian Championships in Rhythmic Gymnastics in Edmonton and sits in first place in the senior high-performance category heading into Saturday's action.

Title up for grabs with defending champ Patricia Bezzoubenko sidelined with injury

Canada's Carmen Whelan, shown in this 2015 file photo, is leading all competitors at the Canadian Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in Edmonton. (File/The Canadian Press)

Carmen Whelan finished strong on day one of competition at the 2017 Canadian Championships in Rhythmic Gymnastics in Edmonton and sits in first place in the senior high-performance category heading into Saturday's action.

This is only the Aurora, Ont., native's second competition of the year after suffering an injury in April.

Whelan scored 33.100 points and sits more than two points ahead of Toronto's Katherine Uchida, who is in second place. Whelan scored 15.850 points in her hoop routine before dominating the competition with her ball routine to score 17.250 points to take the lead.

"I was pretty happy with my performance today," Whelan said. "I wasn't going out to try and be the best but to compete against myself and do what's best for me in my recovery right now. I don't want to push myself further than I can right now but it felt good to be back into my rhythm."

Whelan finished in second place in 2016 behind four-time Canadian champion Patricia Bezzoubenko, who isn't competing this year due to injury.

When asked what it felt like to lead the competition heading into day two, Whelan was optimistic; "it would be amazing for me to win after all these years of sitting in second and hopefully this year I can do it."

In addition to the national championship being on the line, gymnasts are also competing to represent Canada at the Pan American Championships in October.

The winning group as well as the top three senior and top three junior athletes will qualify directly for the competition.

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