Gymnastics-Trampoline

Rosie MacLennan, Olympic champion, to defend Pan Am title

Canadian trampolinist Rosie MacLennan emerged from teammate Karen Cockburn's shadow four years ago when she captured gold at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Emerged from teammate Karen Cockburn's shadow 4 years ago in Guadalajara

Canadian trampoline gymnast Rosie MacLennan is once again hoping the Pan Am Games will be a springboard to Olympic glory. ((Frank Gunn/Canadian Press))

Canadian trampolinist Rosie MacLennan emerged from teammate Karen Cockburn's shadow four years ago when she captured gold at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Cockburn, a four-time Olympian, was the defending champion at the 2011 Games and led after the preliminary round, but illness prevented her from competing in the final.

MacLennan stepped up, and a year later she would be celebrating an Olympic title in London.

"I think it really showed me that you can't put limits on yourself," MacLennan said in a recent interview. "I think before [London] I had in a lot of ways. And now I've seen the possibilities and what's out there if you allow yourself to dream bigger, and do what it actually takes to get there and allow yourself to take those risks and push yourself harder.

"You never know what's going to happen but as long as you're loving the day-to-day aspect of it and pushing yourself to work hard, the sky is the limit."

MacLennan is once again hoping the Pan Am Games will be a springboard to Olympic glory as she gets ready to compete on home turf next month when Toronto hosts the competition for athletes from North, Central and South America.

"It's a fairly critical step on the way to Rio," MacLennan said. "It's an opportunity for us to try out some routines and see how they run before the judges. It's also an opportunity for us to be in front of a bigger crowd, which we don't often get to do especially on home soil. It puts us in the spotlight, puts us under the magnifying glass in that really energized stadium.

"I think being in that environment sparks that fire even more for the next year."

After MacLennan returned to Canada following her London success, she immediately started thinking about where her sport would be in four years. The Toronto native sat down with coach Dave Ross and started looking at the road to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

"We got home and one of the first things he said was, 'Congratulations. But you know that what you did here isn't going to be good enough in four years, right?,"' MacLennan recalled. "So it's good. He keeps you on your toes. He's really opened my eyes a lot about dreaming about bigger skills that have been traditionally men's skills and seeing how far we can push women's trampoline."

MacLennan, 26, packs a lot of power in her taut five-foot-two frame and uses it to get those precious extra split-seconds in the air. Her twists, flips and somersaults appear effortless and have a smooth fluidity.

She won't tip her hand on what to expect when competition begins July 18 at the Toronto Coliseum, but said she has been working on a more difficult routine that is "sort of new."

"At this point, I've kind of gotten everything I've really wanted to out of the sport so now I'm free to do what I want," she said.

MacLennan's goal put into focus

Cockburn, meanwhile, won bronze when women's trampoline made its Olympic debut at the 2000 Sydney Games. That effort helped put MacLennan's goal into focus when she was first starting out.

Cockburn, from Stouffville, Ont, would serve as her mentor and helped guide her after she made the jump from the junior level. They became great friends, training partners and often team up together in synchro events.

MacLennan made her first world championship appearance in 2005 and won bronze two years later. She earned Pan Am silver at the 2007 Games in Rio and finished seventh in her Olympic debut at the 2008 Beijing Games.

She showed her London win was no fluke by taking her first world title in 2013 and adding silver last year.

"You always set new goals, new challenges, new tricks, new routines," MacLennan said.

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