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Also check out our interviews with some
of Canada's women's CWG team members!

2002 Mid-Year Updates with Top Canadian Gymnasts

Melanie Banville

Melanie Banville
2001 Ontario Tour Selection

This year started off very well. I was the alternate for Pan American games, which were held in Cancun, Mexico. Planned was a week long training camp in Texas, with a friendly dual meet against the U.S. We would then head to Mexico for Pam Ams. But, we never arived because we left on September 11, 2001. (The events of September 11 caused all planes to be grounded for several days.

I was a very disapointed, but later found out that I would compete at the Siska Cup, held in Slovenia. This meet had many representatives from all around Europe and also from Argentina. It was a very very good meet for me: I placed 5th AA in the senior category and made bar finals.

Elite Canada was my first Canadian meet as a senior, and I finished a reasonable 10th AA. Knowing that I still have a lot to learn, I started training and trying to learn more skills for the begining of 2002. One week before Gymnix, I hyperextended my left knee doing an Arabian double front. The doctors said it wasn't too bad, but it'd take a while to get better. I did compete at Gymnix nonetheless, and placed 10th AA.

I left the next day for Jurassic Classic in Calgary, but wasn't able to compete because my knee injury had gotten really swollen. It was really hard to train, and so I wasn't able to compete at Wild Rose either.

My knee started getting better, with provincials just ahead. I was able to compete, and placed 3rd AA. I was really excited about this placement, having been unable to compete much of the year.

Nationals came quickly. I felt really confident about my routines, but things didn't go that way. I guess i was a little too confident...! I was very disapointed, but the experience helped my determination. I have been training really well this summer, learning lots, and hoping to do well at Elite Canada.

Laura-Ann Chong

Laura-Ann Chong
2001 Elite Canada

Great West Gym Fest in Idaho was a new experience for me. It was certainly different to be competing in a hotel format with chandeliers hanging so close to the floor that you thought you'd hit it if you rebounded too high (Kylie almost did!), and spectators so close to the vault runway you could shake their hands as you ran past! I really enjoyed the experience, even though I took a lot of falls. Something for me to work on, definitely.

My next "international" experience was at Jurassic Classic in Calgary. I was happy with my results there, and it was exciting to watch the US/Canada team competition. It was very obvious that my coaches' plans in adding more difficulty to my routines was going to be a must in the coming year. But I was confident that that would happen.

Laura-Ann Chong
2002 Canadian Nationals
© Chong family

PAC was another super opportunity to see how my routines were measuring up on the international level. Throughout the training camp prior to the competition, I kept focused on doing my best and executing everything perfectly. I had just changed my Chen on beam to a piked Chen (since the tucked version was no longer a move as of May 1) and we think this was the start to my abdominal injury. From that point on, kips and back handsprings were becoming painful. I had started physio and massage treatments at the training camp and they helped a bit, but I kept on getting new muscle tears in different areas. I was thrilled when I got the opportunity to compete at PAC and was determined to show my best at the meet, in spite of my injuries. In the end, I was able to pull off a pretty clean competition (only 1 fall on beam) and was very happy with my results. When I was able to look at how my scores ranked against the others I knew I could stand up against the best. It sure boosted my confidence.

However, my abdominal injury was quite severe, and there was concern that I had herniated. Fortunately, after ultrasound showed that there wasn't a hernia anywhere, I was able to relax a bit before gearing up for Nationals. I didn't work full routines for a week and pulled my double pike on floor, my piked Chen on beam and my half out on vault (from a front front). I also had to alter my planche mount on beam to just a press to handstand. We knew that this would water down my start values, but I couldn't do the moves with my abdomen the way it was.

At Nationals my coach decided to put back in my double pike on floor, but kept everything else out. I was running over for massage constantly to stay stretched and to minimize any more damage I might be doing to my abs. I just wanted to do a clean meet and prove to myself that I could work through the pain - AND I DID! Coming in 7th AA and qualifying in 2 finals (vault & beam) was awesome - I was alternate for bars. Second day I was nervous, but knew I could do it. On the beam I just wanted to stay on and stick my routine. Everyone had been wobbling or falling before me and I just knew I had to be clean. When I realized I had won the beam I was so excited - and so was my coach, Svetlana. I knew my hard work had paid off.

2002 Canadian Nationals: Chong wins beam
© Chong family

This year has been a year of injuries, illnesses and frustration for me, but I think I have come through it pretty well. I had an ear problem throughout most of the year, with surgery to remove a lump in March. My doctor was quite surprised that I had the balance I had with this lump - I was actually almost deaf in that ear!

With my ear clear, and my abs healing now, I am looking forward to a good summer of hard work and new skills. Right now I am still going to weekly physio, but I am trying more and more skills each week. I can do back walkovers without pain now and I actually caught a Jaeger today! Vault is coming along now and I can't wait until my tumbling gets back!

If there is anything I have learned this year it's that if you dig down deep enough, and you set your goals high, you can do anything. Never quit!

Lisa Pattison

Lisa represented Canada at the 2001 Canberra Cup, one of the World's premiere junior invitationals. Held December 7-8, 2001, Lisa rushed from Elite Canada (missing the award ceremonies!) to her flight to Australia. Here, Lisa shares her thoughts about the competition.

Lisa Pattison
2001 Elite Canada

After being very, very disappointed that I did not compete in Japan [at the 2001 Japan Junior Invitational, which she was unable to attend because flights were grounded due to the events of September 11], I was extremely excited about Australia. was a little scary going, because of September 11, and also very rushed because of prior competitions (Siska Cup and Elite Canada).

The Canberra Cup had representatives from Australia, USA, Great Britain, China, and for the first time ever South Africa. I was very proud to represent Canada. Overall, I had an excellent experience, competed well, and gained confidence for future competitions.

I was the tiniest gymnast and one of the youngest. I hit all of my routines and had a good competition. I made bars, beam, and floor finals where I place 4th, 7th, 7th respectively.

Australia was a lot of fun. I had the opportunity to meet new people, and to see some of the tourist attractions, such as, the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. I also went to the zoo and saw koala bears and kangaroos.

I have been on holidays for two weeks, and start back on the 15th.

Crystal Gilmore
2000 Gym Challenge

Crystal Gilmore

I am enjoying the summer and I'm still training in Cambridge until the beginning of August when my family is driving down to Utah! We're renting a motorhome, and plan on doing some sightseeing along the way!!

Training is going well, I'm enjoying the summer, and the time off from school. I just finished my OAC (grade 13), and have graduated from highschool! I've actually been able to have some holidays, which have not been easy to come by in the past few years. I'm continuing to maintain my skills and I am learning a few new ones as well! I am also coaching part time this summer, and enjoying that!

I've had so many great experiences over the years competing for Canada. So many memories and people that I will never forget. A lot of hard work, but it has all paid off. I have been so fortunate to be able to learn from such great coaches, judges, and athletes along the way. I have had an incredible journey throughout this sport, and I am looking forward to continuing it in Utah!

When I look back, it has been 4 years since I competed at the Commonwealth Games in Malaysia, but I can remember everything just as though it was yesterday!! It has been great to represent Canada at some very important events including World Championships, Commonwealth Games and Olympics Games. As far as representing Canada again, you never know! It will be a very great feeling to be announced as a Canadian Team Member when I am representing the University of Utah.

I am undecided as to what I am going to major in, because there are so many options out there. However, at the present time, I am really interested in sport psychology. Utah has been known for its great gymnastics team, and I look forward to contributing to the team. My goal during my university career is to make finals at the NCAA Championships and contribute to a medal winning team. In the near future, I look forward to studying, competing, having fun, and meeting many new people along the way!

Ashley Peckett

Ashley Peckett
2001 World Team Trials

On her injuries post-2001 Worlds:

Well, it happened about a week before Elite Canada... I was just getting back into my full routines after worlds. I went to do my 2 1/2 punch front on floor, but when I landed I rolled both ankles out and sprained them both really badly. It took awhile for me to recover from this as they were bad sprains. I had torn two ligaments and had a really bad bone bruise in the joint of the left ankle, which only got worse when ever I tried to tumble or do anything that pounded on it. However, after a number of months of doing lots of conditioning and hours of bars, along with a lot of physiotherapy, I finally got back to everything!!

Her thoughts on the 2002 Canadian National Championships:
Nationals obviously did not go well for me at all, and it was a real disappointment. I went in there feeling pretty good about all my routines and everything, but things did not go that way. I felt a lot of pressure to keep up my ranking amongst all the other great gymnasts, and I think I let it stress me out too much. It also didn't help that I hadn't been competing during the year due to injuries. It was pretty frustrating to make so many mistakes, however I think it also gave me more determination to go and do an even better job in beam finals. I was so determined to make up for my mistakes in the all around, which I feel contributed to my success on beam.

On her summer plans:

Training has changed a bit since we aren't working routines right now. [We] are working on new skills, and old ones separately.

I think the relief of school stress has really helped. Since exams finished I have been having great trainings - what a relief! I [have] started working on a lot of new skills, but am just in the first stages of all of them.

I hope to improve all my routines throughout the summer, and am looking forward to world trials in the fall.

Lydia Williams
2002 Gymnix International

Lydia Williams

On her recent competitions:

We are staying positive and learning from every experience (good or bad). I am pushing hard, and have already improved on all events. I am learning new skills on each event, trying to improve my start values and also the quality. I'll be more sure of what will go into the new routines closer to the new season. We are looking forward towards next season.

In the summer, my main goal is to improve start values and consistency of my routines.

On the support of family, friends, and coaches:

My family knows how hard I have to work, and they try to do everything they can that allows me to do what I do. Most of my friends are also in gymnastics or other sports, so they all know what is going on, and they don't just think that I am slacking off from school when I go away for a while for a competition.

And of course my coaches are great in and out of the gym. They don't just care about my gymnastics. In fact, they would give up gym time for catching up on school work if it was necessary, or [I] need more time with my family. They are more concerned about the person that I develop into, than just gymnastics. (Of course, gym is still high on the priority list!)

Amélie Plante

Amélie Plante at 2001 Worlds
Photo courtesy of Don Johnson

PAC was a nice competition, and in general I did well. I had some minor errors, but overall am happy about how I did. Making two finals was fantastic! I wanted to final on bars, and made it. I didn't expect to qualify for beam finals, and when I found I was so happy too! I was also happy to be the only senior to qualify herself for two apparatus.

On bars, I made a mistake on an easy skill. I hit my difficult skills, like my Def, and my giant full to one and a half, and Gienger, but feel on the free hip! I was very disappointed. I didn't fall on beam, and was very happy to come fourth place. It was my third Pacific Alliance Championships, and the best.

I was very disappointed about Nationals. All year I did very well, e.g., NED-CAN-CZE-GER, Worlds, L'International Gymnix, and PAC. I had good results, but at Nationals things didn't go how I wanted. I fell on my Def on bars, and during a jump on beam. It was very frustrating, because in training for the competition everything was really good. My training between PAC and Nationals was excellent.

I don't know why, but at Nationals I didn't do what I was capable of competing. I think I lost confidence in myself, and this is why I missed. It was a competition for me, as it was the selection process for the Commonwealth Games team. I didn't qualify myself. Doing poorly at Nationals is one thing, but missing the Commonwealth Games team is more frustrating! But, I'm trying not to discourage myself too much about this.

I still enjoy doing gymnastics and have more goals that I want to achieve. I want to do the next World Championships, this fall in Hungary. So this summer I will train hard in the gym. I will work on new skills, and try to increase confidence from within!

Amanda Gering
2001 Elite Canada

Amanda Gering

"You'll always miss 100% of the shots you don't take"

I learned about the competition [PAC] at Wildrose. My coaches told me that Wildrose would be kind of like a test, to see if Andrei wanted me on the team. At the end of the training camp they had a coaches meeting, and decided I was to be on the team. Andrei thought it would be best if I was the alternate, but I wasn't upset because I still got to compete. That whole trip was a good experience because of the training camp, the international meet feeling, and we got to meet tons of new people. I really enjoyed PAC!

Now that school is finished, training [is in] our summer schedule. I am working on some new skills, but I would rather not say what they are. [These] skills are pretty much my main focus this summer, and to get my start values up.

Next year my goals are to be on top, and [to] be on teams that will give me the experience that I need. To make the worlds team is a huge goal for me for next year. We (Canada) need a strong team - it's very important for Olympics and all.

Gael Mackie

Mackie poses for
Photo courtesy of Don Johnson

Right now I'm in my summer training. Summer training is quite different- lots of conditioning, new skills, cardio, basics, and choreography/ballet. The hours have gone up and we are doing two training sessions a day, on some days. Also, we don't do full routines. I probably will not have any competitions until Elite Canada in December. I'm upgrading my routines for the upcoming year in which I will go senior. I'm working on lots of new things. We're not sure which things I'll actually put in my routines, but I'm working on a whole bunch of things.

I need to bring most of my start values up higher for the senior level. On bars I'm working on el grip combinations. On beam I'm working on a new dismount, and various tumbling connections. On floor I'm working on E level tumbling passes. (ie. full-in double pike, double layout.) On vault I'm upgrading my Yurchenko entry.

Lyudmila (Lobaznyuk) has joined the coaching team at Omega. She will have some groups of her own and will fill in for coaches away this summer. Vladimir and Svetlana are still my main coaches, but when Svetlana goes away on holiday this summer, Lyudmila will fill in for her, and will be coaching me then, on beam, etc.

Right now I'm in good health, and have no major injuries : )

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