Gael Mackie, Katia Lashina, and Amelia Cline
at the 2002 WOGA Classic
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Gael, Katia, and Amelia
pose with USA's Hollie Vise
Photo courtesy Don Johnson
The 2002 WOGA Classic is one of the premier club Invitationals in the World. This year, competitors from the Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Kazakstan, Australia, Mexico, and Canada came to Allen, TX to compete against the home club's talent. Canada was represented in part by Omega Gymnastics' Katia Lashina, Amelia Cline, and Gael Mackie.Katia competed three events (no FX), with her best performance on bars (4th). Amelia Cline, a novice gymnast, placed 12th overall in the level 10A session.
Gael placed 4th all-around in the junior elite portion of the 2002 WOGA Classic, and earned bronze on balance beam. Gael performed beautifully on beam, drawing admiration from the crowd for her signature moves and 2 ½ twist dismount. The performance is all the more impressive given a bout of pre-meet nerves and confusion at the judges table as to whether Gael or teammate Katia should lead off on beam. Performing to Hava Nagila, Gael completed her piked double back and 2 ½ punch front, but slipped out of her triple twist. From there, Gael stuck her two vaults. Were it not for a fall on her bars dismount, she might have medalled in the all-around.
Gael, Katia, and Amelia spoke with Gymn.ca's following the meet, reflecting on their performances and offering insight into their lives as high level gymnasts.
Club: Omega Gymnastics
Coach: Vladimir and Svetlana Lashin
Ages: 13 (Gael), 12 (Amelia), and "almost 15" (Katia)
Gymn.ca: Is this your first trip competing outside of Canada?
Katia: No, I lived in Australia for the last few years. I moved from Russia when I was four, then lived in Australia for about 10 years. I moved to Canada about a year and a half ago. Canada is fun…it’s cold!
Gymn.ca: Now Katia, you didn’t compete at Elite Canada?
Katia: No, I’m not allowed. I’m still Australian. I am still in the process of getting my Canadian citizenship.
Gymn.ca: And how did you feel at this meet?
Katia: A little nervous.
Gymn.ca: And what do you think was your best performance?
Katia: The bars.
Gymn.ca: Can you tell me a little bit about your hardest skills?
Katia: Full twisting Korbut on beam, a side salto on beam, a Tkatchev on bars…the usual stuff!
Gymn.ca: And are your training new skills?
Katia: Yes! A back handspring full twist on beam. And here and there, learning little skills as I can.
Gymn.ca: So what is your best memory of any meet?
Katia: That’s a hard question! Um, just trying my hardest, trying not to fall.
Gymn.ca: Do you have a gymnastics role model?
Katia: Yeah, Ekaterina Lobaznyuk from Russia…Svetlana Khorkina…I like all of the Russians.
Gymn.ca: Amelia, what is your favourite meet experience?
Amelia: I went to Bluewater, which is in Ontario, about 2 years ago. I placed 5th on bars, and was really proud of that.
Gymn.ca: Great! And is your bars your favourite event?
Gymn.ca: And what kind of skills do you do?
Amelia: Giant half, double pike….
Gael: (Acknowledging Amelia’s new skills in the gym) A double layout!
Amelia: Yeah, double layout…and a front giant half with a blind change.
Gymn.ca: What is your daily training schedule?
Katia: After school every day -- well, we finish school a little early – from 1pm to 6pm. Except for Wednesdays, when we do 3:30pm to 6:30pm -- so light training. On Sundays we do 9am to 2pm.
Gael: 28 hours per week.
Gael Mackie on floor
Photo courtesy Don Johnson
Gymn.ca: Gael, I understand that you come from a family full of gymnasts! Can you tell us a bit about that?
Gael: <<Giggles>> Yes, everybody in my family does gym, even my cat! In her kennel, once when we were moving, she got scared of the movers and she did a side salto! She’s funny! In between our stairs we’ve got holes and she’ll climb in between them. She’s a little gymnast!
Gymn.ca: An acrobat cat!
Gael: Yes! And my sister [Charlotte] trains at our gym. She’s provincial level 2.
Gymn.ca: She’s younger than you.
Gael: Yes. And apparently she looks like me – that’s what everybody says. And then my brother [Owen] trains at Twisters. He’s 15 and I don’t know what level he is in. My mom was a gymnast in the 1970s and 1980s. She was a junior. She competed at Westerns and Nationals. My Dad was a gymnast. He won a couple of Nationals and he went to the Munich Olympics but in warm-up be badly hurt his knee, so he couldn’t compete.
Gymn.ca: That’s sad, but still a very big accomplishment to get that far!
Gymn.ca: Now have you been training at Omega for most of your career?
Gael: Yes. I went there around 1997, and before I was at Flicka.
Gymn.ca: So when you came to Omega, was Kate Richardson still training there?
Gymn.ca: And what was that like having somebody at that level?
Gael: I didn’t know her until I came there.
Gymn.ca: There’s not a lot of Canadian gymnastics on TV!
Gael: But when I saw her, I was all excited to be training at her gym.
Gymn.ca: So far, what is your most memorable national event?
Gael: I don’t know, they’re all memorable! Probably Nationals 2001 in New Brunswick, but they’re all fun! [Gael placed 2nd AA, 1st on vault, 5th on bars, and 3rd on floor at this meet]
Gymn.ca: Your most memorable International event?
Gael: Probably this one. I was both nervous and excited. A couple of days before the competition I would be like, "Oh, I’m so excited" and then the next day I’d be so nervous. I was kind of nervous, very excited, and very nervous! It’s people I’ve never competed against, but I’ve seen them on TV. They’re role models! It was kind of weird competing against them.
Gymn.ca: Which "big name" gymnast that you were most--?
Gael: In juniors it was Hollie Vise, and in the seniors it was Oksana Chusovitina.
Gymn.ca: She’s quite amazing!
Gymn.ca: This was a great meet for you guys. Gael, you looked really nervous before you got on the beam, and then you did great. How did you beat that?
Gael: Yeah, I don’t know…. As you know, at Elite Canada I had a terrible beam. I fell four times! My warm-up was horrible here. The equipment is different – it’s rounder, slippery, and softer. I was SO nervous. My jumps were all off – everything was terrible. I was so nervous! It was my first event, and I didn’t know how I’d go into the competition. But I just pretended that I was at home, and doing 7 full routines and this was my first one. And if I fell on this one, I’d always have the next routines. I just tried to block everything out.
Gymn.ca: I think your beam routine was one of the best of the meet! Everyone around me was impressed.
Gael: I was so happy, especially after Elite Canada.
Gymn.ca: And what are your long term goals for gymnastics?
Katia: Just try my hardest and get as far as I can…Be the best I can.
Amelia: I plan to travel a lot [to many meets]!
Gymn.ca: And do you hope to compete for Canada in any major events this year?
Gael: Yes, there’s one in Idaho -- Great West Gymfest, it’s in the beginning of March.
Gymn.ca: And Pacific Alliance Championships are coming to Vancouver. Maybe that’s a possibility?
Katia: Yeah, we have Golden Spike in about 7 days. It’s held in our gym. It’s our own invitational.
Gael: And we have a training camp.
Gymn.ca: With Andrei?
Gymn.ca: So you’ve all been to one of his training camps?
Katia and Gael: Yes.
Gymn.ca: What’s that like?
Katia: Fun! It’s hard.
Gymn.ca: What kind of new things do you do? New to training camps that you wouldn’t do at your home gym?
Katia: You try 24/7. You try 110% every day.
Gael: We really work on basics, and technique lots! We do tons of skills.
Gymn.ca: Do you have any words of wisdom that you want to share?
Katia: "No guts, no glory!"
Amelia: "Try hard and never give up!"
Gael: "Grit your teeth and bear it," and then, "No Guts, no Glory!"
Gymn.ca: That’s kind of like your team motto?
The girls clown around following Gymn.ca interview
Photo courtesy Heather Maynez
Gymn.ca: Is there anything else you guys want to say? Anything else you want to share?
Katia: Our gym?
Katia: It’s big!
Gael: It’s bigger than WOGA but it’s got fewer people. Ever since her [Katia’s] parents came, it’s really taken off.
Katia: Our competitive program has gotten really good.
Gael: My sister is really catching up to us! Everybody is happy. Our Rec program is going up; It had suffered in the past.
Gymn.ca: Well that’s good. Good luck with your future meets!
Katia, Amelia, and Gael: Thank you!