Wednesday, May 23, 2012

GCG News Feed 2012 Canadian Championships Day 1

May 21

Canadian gymnastics championships set the stage for Summer Olympics  

REGINA -- Over 600 competitors will be vying for titles in all three gymnastics disciplines -- artistic, rhythmic and trampoline -- at this year’s Canadian championships May 22-26, including some who have already clinched a spot at the upcoming Summer Olympics and others still battling to qualify for the Games.

Highlighting the trampoline competition are three-time Olympic medal winner Karen Cockburn, 2008 Olympic silver medallist Jason Burnett and two-time world medallist Rosannagh MacLennan, all of Toronto.

All three have already qualified for the Games and can use this year’s championships to hone the routines they hope will carry them to a record-breaking Canadian showing this summer in London.

Canada’s rhythmic gymnastics team in the group event will also give spectators a sneak preview of their Olympic routines after clinching its berth at the world championships last September.

It’s the first time Canada has qualified for the Olympics in the group event since it made its debut at the 1996 Games.

Team members are Rose Cossar, Anjelika Reznik, Anastasiya Muntyanu, and Alexandra Landry, all of Toronto, Kelsey Titmarsh of Thornhill, Ont., and Katrina Cameron of Mississauga, Ont.

Canada didn’t qualify any individual rhythmic gymnastics for the Games but rising stars Maria Kitkarska of Montreal and Nerissa Mo of Vancouver headline this year’s senior competition while Patricia Bezzoubenko of Toronto will be looking for her second straight national junior title.  

Unlike  the trampoline and rhythmic gymnasts, the pressure to qualify for the Games is still on for competitors in both men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics.

After falling just short of qualifying a full five-man team for the Games, Canada is restricted to sending just one male gymnast to London and competition is expected to be fierce for the lone spot up for grabs.

Among those in the running include 2011 world championship team members Nathan Gafuik of Calgary, Ken Ikeda of Abbotsford, B.C., Kevin Lytwyn of Stoney Creek, Ont., Jackson Payne and Brandon O’Neill, both of Edmonton, Hugh Smith of Halifax, Scott Morgan of Vancouver and a group of younger gymnasts aiming for the 2016 Olympics.

“They’ve all been working very hard on increasing difficulty in their best events to increase their chances,” said Canadian men’s program director Jeff Thomson of Vancouver.

“Some of the younger guys know they are a long shot at best but this is an opportunity to experience the pressure of qualifying for the next Olympics and the older guys with more experience know that they are going to fight it out to see who goes.”

In women’s gymnastics Canada has qualified a full team for the Games with the country’s top competitors vying for one of five openings.

Results from the Canadian championships and a final selection meet at the end of June will count heavily towards Olympic team selection.

“We’re expecting a high level of competition and ultimately a strong team for the Olympics,” said national team director Kyna Fletcher of Vancouver.

Competitors at this year’s Canadian championships include three-time Canadian all around champion Kristina Vaculik of Whitby, Ont., 2010 Elite Canada all around champion Peng Peng Lee of Toronto and 2011 Canadian junior champion Victoria  Moors of Cambridge, Ont. 

The Canadian championship also includes competition in non-Olympic tumbling and double mini trampoline events.

Among the medal contenders are Denis Vachon of Burlington, Ont., and Mariah Madigan in men’s and women’s double mini and Emily Smith of Burlington, Ont., and Jon Swaiger of Calgary in men’s and women’s tumbling.

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