Newsmaker: Rosie MacLennan's perseverance worth its weight in gold
Canadian trampolinist wins 2nd Olympic gold after concussion
By Benjamin Blum, CBC Sports
Rosie MacLennan won Canada's lone gold medal at the 2012 Olympics, so it's only fitting that she helped her country exceed that total in Rio.
The 27-year-old trampolinist from King City, Ont., won her second career Olympic gold on Friday, making more history in the process.
MacLennan is the first Canadian to win consecutive gold medals in the same event at the Summer Games. She's also the first Canadian flag-bearer since Carolyn Waldo in 1988 to win gold at the Games where they were honoured.
"Going into London I was I guess a bit more of an underdog and I really had no pressure on me. I really was able to sit back and enjoy the moment," MacLennan told CBCSports.ca on Friday.
"Today, obviously leading up there was a little more attention, a little more expectation, but I think as athletes we put the most pressure on ourselves. I really tried to go out and enjoy the moment and share the love of my sport with the world."
And it almost didn't happen.
'Didn't feel done' after concussion
If there is one injury that captures sports fans' attentions instantly, it's concussions.
Their prevalence in hockey and football is well documented, but imagine attempting the type of aerial acrobatics MacLennan has mastered with a concussion.
She sustained the injury last summer ahead of the Pan Am Games, but amazingly persevered to win gold in Toronto. Her qualification for Rio, however, was still in doubt.
"It was a bit of a bumpy road. I was actually off training for about five months. I was still able to do some off-trampoline training, which I'm grateful for, but it was a lot of testing and exercises with my eyes and really trying to re-train my brain so that I could sustain the amount of stress we put on the vestibular system," MacLennan said.
"I was having some issues with spatial awareness so gradually over the course of a few months I was able to build it back up and finally I'm feeling pretty good."
MacLennan's decision to scale back and let her brain heal paid off. She successfully qualified for Rio, secured her spot at the Canadian championships and has felt back to normal since March.
"I knew that no matter what happened in terms of timing and what might happen with the Olympics I knew that I wanted to get back on the trampoline because I didn't feel done," she said. "I knew that there was more that I wanted to accomplish."
Paying it forward
MacLennan cites her grandfather, an Olympic hopeful in his youth, as one of her biggest inspirations. "I had plenty of emotional times with him," MacLennan said. "He was proud of me no matter what happened."
Her second gold medal, and how she accomplished it, further cements her as a source of inspiration to a new generation of Canadian Olympic hopefuls.
Dave Ross, who coaches MacLennan' Olympic coach and the coach at their home club north of Toronto, described her as consistent, tough, focused and motivated.
But he has always been most impressed by her determination and the fact she always gives back.
"She's a very bright girl and she's really good with other athletes," Ross said. "She helps other athletes. It's not all about her. Little kids come up and she gives them pointers or she goes over and holds a mat for somebody else."
"Trampoline's been something that I've been incredibly passionate about for most of my life," MacLennan said.
"When I go into the gym I kind of let go of anything else that's going on and really focus on why I'm there."
For the sake of Canada's future Olympians, here's hoping MacLennan is around for a long time.
With files from The Canadian Press