Gymn.ca: First of all, congratulations on all your success in gymnastics, and especially for your outstanding
performance at the Sydney, as well as your letter of intent to the University of Utah.
Gymn.ca: Crystal, you did not compete in the recent national
championships, apparently due to injury. What was the injury, and how has it
affected your preparation for the upcoming world championships?
CRYSTAL GILMORE: I did not compete at the recent Canadian Championships,
due to a nagging injury in my ankle. It is getting much better
now, and I have been able to start back to normal training once
|Gilmore performs her trademark floor routine|
at the 2000 Olympic Trials
Gymn.ca: What are your thoughts on this fall's world
championships? What are your goals for the competition? How are you preparing
your routines for the tougher start values?
CG: I'm really hoping to make world's this year! During
the summer, I'm want to train really hard, and upgrade my start
values. I really want to go into the next season with confidence,
clean routines, and be able to have a lot of fun doing it!
Gymn.ca: Let's talk about your experience at the Sydney Olympics.
Tell us a little bit about the sequence of events that unfolded between the time the rest of the
team left New Zealand and the time you mounted the podium to compete your
balance beam routine in the women's team preliminaries.
CG: There were a ton of events that occured from the time the team
left for Sydney, to the time that I arrived in Sydney.
First of all, I was staying in New Zealand for three extra days and
living in a house with the Hall family along with Lise Simard, the
Women's Program Coordinator. Sasha, the man that I was staying with
coached me at the local club, and from there we headed to Sydney.
|On the beam at |
Gymnastic Challenge 2000
When we arrived, we took a cab from the airport to Canada House
where Lise Simard would be staying, and got her settled in. I was
scheduled to stay with a family, who I would meet up with later on that
day. We couldn't find a bus to take us to podium training, and
after walking up and down streets for over an hour we realized we were
very late for the podium training. As the alternate for the
team, I was not eligible for any tickets, prior to arriving in
Sydney. I had a very tough time purchasing tickets to see my teammates. We
eventually were able to purchase most of the women's gymnastics tickets
over the Internet and through other sources, even though they had been
sold out for months. I did not have the tickets in my posession yet, as they had to be
picked up at the ticket booth when I arrived.
By the time we arrived at the SuperDome, I heard Yvonne's floor music
playing when I was going up the escalator. I quickly rushed up the stairs to
catch the very end of her routine, and a moment later there was a delayed
clapping from the capacity crowd, and I looked down onto the floor and
saw one of my teammates being taken off the floor in a stretcher.
I did not know who it was at that point in time, but I could feel
my heart sink down to my knees, and I didn't know what to think.
I had no idea what had just happened, and I was feeling very sick to my
stomach. I went outside afterwards, with some of the coaches, and
they told me that Emilie Fournier had hurt her ankle during her floor
routine, and they didn't know the extent of the injury. At
that point, I went back to the Canada House to stay over night
with the coaches and prepared to train the following morning.
So the next morning, I went to the training gym and was met by the
rest of my teammates and coaches, although it was very sad
that Emilie was absent as we had all trained together for the
five weeks prior to the Games. As a team, we all had
established a very close bond, and didn't want anything unfortunate
to happen to one another. The sport of gymnastics is very
unpredictable at times, and what happened to Emilie was very devastating.
Following the training, we went back to Canada House. I still
hadn't received accreditation at that time, so I was unable
to move into the Athlete's Village with the rest of the team,
and the decision had not yet been made regarding Emilie and her
ability to compete or not.
Finally, the next morning it was decided that she would be unable to
compete. The day before the competition, I went with my coach,
Elvira, to the Accreditation Center at about 6 am, to enable me access into
the Athlete's Village. By the time all the paperwork had been
done, it was the afternoon, and I had a couple of hours before
training. At that training session, I was told that I would compete on
beam, and was beginning to feel nervous but excited. The day of
the competition had come, and I hadn't yet touched the competition
equipment. The only time I was able to do so was the 30 seconds
prior to competing, so I was VERY nervous about that. But I also
knew that I had trained my routine many many times and could do
it! (Ed: Crystal performed what many consider to be the best balance
beam routine of her life that day!)
We were all so excited once we had finished the competition and
had done our all time best as a team!!
Gymn.ca: You were not a part of the 1999 Pan American Games or
world championship teams. Did that affect your goals coming
into the Olympic year? What were your emotions when you were named team
alternate for Sydney?
CG: I was named the alternate to the 99 Pan Am Team, and
dislocated my elbow during day 2 of the World Trials. But that did
not affect me in any way going into the Olympic year. I was full
of confidence and was as ready as ever. I was really happy that I
had made the alternate position for Olympics, it was a tough
competition. I was really disappointed after the fall off bars on day 1 of
the trials, ( Ed: Crystal suffered a frightening fall on her dismount,
landing on her head. A full report of the 2000 Olympic Trials is available
here.), but I was really glad that I was able to pull through and
do well in day 2!
|Receiving congratulations from Monica Covacci|
at the 2000 Olympic Trials
Gymn.ca: Many fans consider your current floor routine to be
one of the best-choreographed in the world. How did the routine and
music get selected and choreographed? Did you have a hard time
learning to express yourself in such a dramatic fashion?
CG: Thank you! My choreography was done by Ludmilla
Tolkochov, who helps us all at the Cambridge Kips, and was a
international rhythmic gymnast herself. She has been able to produce
some amazing floor routines over the years!! I did have quite a hard
time learning the new dramatic fashion, however once I got the hang of
it, and after many many repetitions, I was able become more expressive
and have a real feel for the music.
Gymn.ca: 1998 was a big year for you. First you almost won the
senior national title, then you were named to the Commonwealth Games
team. Were you expecting that much success so early in your career? How
did you feel about your experience in Kuala Lumpur?
CG: 1998 was definitely a major year for
me. I was very surprised at how well I had done! It was
very exciting to be able to do so well at nationals and at the
Commonwealth Games as well as represent Canada at the World Youth Games. I
wasn't really expecting so much this early in my career, but it was
definitely a great experience that I'll never forget.
|A young Gilmore at the|
1998 Canadian championships
Gymn.ca: Tell us a little bit about your relationship with
Yvonne Tousek. How is the adjustment in the gym with Yvonne gone? How has
this changed your perspective on training and competition?
CG: Yvonne and I are very close. It
has been really awkward in the gym without her this year, because we
used to train side by side each and every day. I really look up to
Yvonne, she has always been a great role model to every gymnast!
I still train as hard as usual, but it is definitely much different
without her in the gym, and her presence is missed a lot by
everyone. She is doing great at university!
Gymn.ca: You've been working with your coaches, Elvira Saadi
and Vladimir Kondratenko, for a number of years. How do you feel they
have affected your career and outlook on the sport of gymnastics? How
would you characterize them as coaches?
|Listening intently to instructions|
from coach Saadi
CG: Elvira and Valody have coached me for many years, and
have always been there for me through the good days and the bad
days. They make a great duo, and I respect them a lot. They both
have special aspects that they bring to the gym, and together, they sure
know how to coach some great gymnastics! They are wonderful
people, I don't think gymnastics would be the same if they weren't my
coaches, because they truly understand each and every gymnast that they
teach from the inside out, and are both terrific coaches!!
Gymn.ca: Thank you so much for your time, Crystal, and best of luck this year and beyond!
A video of Crystal's floor routine is available here