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"Never give up, because if you do you’ve accomplished nothing. Remember pain is temporary, pride is forever."

Melanie Banville

About Melanie

Date of Birth: June 22nd 1987
Hometown: Cornwall, Ontario
Club: Ottawa Gymnastics Centre
Coaches: Tobie Goreman, Lori Iurello
Training Hours per Week: 22
Favourite Event: Uneven Bars
Least Favourite Event: Balance Beam
Favourite Gymnasts: Lilia Podkopayeva "I met [her] last year in Florida and also Nadia Comaneci because she scored a perfect 10."
Hobbies: Shopping, hanging out with friends, jumping on my trampoline and just relaxing. Future Competitive Goals: "I would love to go to the Olympics and that’s what I'm aiming for! I also would love to get a scholarship in the States."
Favourite Food: Spaghetti
Favourite Music: Some hip hop, some rap and some pop.
Interesting Fact: "My twin brother and I have been going to OGC for 8 years. Since I live near Cornwall it takes me 1 hour and 15 minutes to get to gym each time and then back. We do this 5 times a week. We do it because we love gymnastics!!!"
Skills Training: Tsuk-full vault; double front off bars; bhs-layout-bhs on beam; double arabian on floor
Melanie's Competitive Results

1999 Ontario Provincials, Novice: 7th AA, 1st UB
1999 Canadian Championships, Novice: 1st Team, 6th AA, 2nd BB
2000 Elite Ontario, Novice: 5th AA, 1st UB
2000 Canadian Championships, Novice: 1st Team, 6th AA, 1st UB
2000 Elite Canada, Junior: 3rd AA, 4th UB, 2nd BB
2001 Lilleshall Invitational, England: 1st Team (Ontario), 5th AA
2001 Spring Cup, Junior: 8th AA
2001 Elite Ontario, Junior: 1st AA, 1st V, 2nd UB, 1st FX
2001 Canadian Championships, Junior: 3rd AA, 5th V, 5th UB, 3rd BB, 2nd FX
2001 Siska International, Senior: 5th AA, 8th UB
2001 Elite Canada, Senior: 10th AA
2002 Gymnix International, Senior: 12th AA
2002 Canadian Championships, Senior: 19th AA
2002 Elite Canada, Senior: 5th AA, 5th BB, 4th FX
2003 Australian Youth Olympic Festival: 3rd T, 5th FX
2003 Jurassic Classic: 1st T, 1st AA, 2nd V, 1st UB, 5th BB, 3rd FX
2003 Pacific Challenge (USA vs AUS vs CAN): 3rd T, 17th AA 

2003 Achtlandentoernooi (8-country meet): 6th T, 12th AA, 6th FX
2003 Canadian Championships, Senior: 2nd AA, 1st V, 1st UB, 2nd BB, 1st FX
2003 Pan Am/World team trials: 2nd AA
2003 Pan Am Games: 2nd T, 5th AA, 8th V, 5th BB
2003 World Championships: 11th T
2003 Elite Canada: 2nd AA, 1st FX, 2nd V, BB
2004 Olympic Test Event: 6th T, 3rd V
2004 Pacific Alliance Championships: 4th T, 7th AA, 3rd V
2004 Canadian Championships, Senior: 4th AA, 1st V, 1st UB, 2nd BB, 4th FX
2004 Olympic Trials: 1st AA
2004 Olympic Games: 10th T, 24th AA, 24th FX (prelim)
2004 Elite Canada: 2nd AA, 7th UB, 2nd BB

24th AA at the
2004 Olympics
Photo by Grace Chiu

Melanie Banville trains at the Ottawa Gymnastics Centre, one of the strongest clubs in the country, where she is coached by Tobie Goreman and Lori Iurello. She surprised many people with her third place finish at the 2000 Elite Canada competition in Winnipeg in the junior High Performance category. Banville had finished a strong 6th all-around in both of her previous appearances as a novice at the Canadian championships - the first in Burnaby B.C. in 1999 and then again in Montreal in 2000. Both times Banville was part of the gold medal winning Ontario Team.

Early in 2001, Banville had the chance to compete internationally under the new Code of Points at the Lilleshall Invitational in England. Banville finished 5th in the all-around while her Ontario team took gold in the team event.

In the spring of 2001, Banville got a big confidence boost by winning the all-around at the Elite Ontario championships in Toronto in the junior High Performance category. "It felt great," she said of her first all-around win at this level of competition. She followed this win with a solid third place in the all-around at the Canadian championships, where "it was a great feeling making all four event finals."

Banville wins the
'04 Olympic Trials

Banville was poised for her first taste of international competition as a member of the Canadian national team in September as part of a junior team that was set to compete against an American team in Texas. Unfortunately, the tragic events of September 11th cancelled this competition, so Banville had to wait a few months to get her chance. In late November, Banville traveled with a young Canadian team to Slovenia for the Siska International. There she finished as the top Canadian in the senior division with a 5th place finish - an excellent result considering Banville was still two years shy of being a senior age eligible gymnast. She also qualified for the apparatus finals in her favourite event, the uneven bars. Banville finished off the 2001 competitive season with her first senior appearance at Elite Canada. She was one of several first year senior competitors and she held her own, avoiding falls and showing some new skills en route to a 10th place finish in the all-around.

Banville has clean form on every event and she continues to add new skills in an effort to raise her difficulty to international standards. On vault she shows a tucked full twisting Tsukahara. Her bar routine is highlighted by a giant-full to Tkatchev combination, an overshoot ˝ turn handstand to free-hip full turn combo, and a double pike dismount. On beam she displays a piked front mount, a punch front, a switch side leap, switch leap to back tuck combo, a ff-layout series, and a 2 ˝ twist dismount. On floor, she really knows how to sell her upbeat and well-choreographed set. Her tumbling includes a 2 ˝ twist opening line and a difficult double pike to end her routine. All of her routines are performed with clean form and a stylistic flair, which has become a trademark of her club. She is definitely a gymnast on the rise, one who has a good chance to represent Canada at future meets.

Melanie has a twin brother Eric who is also a gymnast. Eric finished 11th all-around at the 2000 Canadian Championships in the Under-16 category, and in 2001 he won the all-around in the men's Tyro High Performance category.

Banville won 3 medals
at the '04 nationals

2002 Highlights: Banville began her first year of senior competition with the hopes of a top-calibre performance at her first meet, the Gymnix International. Unfortunately, a hyperextended knee suffered during training for the event limited Banville's abilities, but she was still able to manage a respectable 12th-place finish against many of the best athletes from the United States and the rest of Canada. Later that month, Banville was scheduled to perform against the U.S. team again at the Jurassic Classic, but the knee injury had worsened, forced the 15 year-old to withdraw.

By May, Banville was ready to return to the competitive scene for her first senior Canadian Championships. Competing against a deep field, she finished 19th overall, and failed to make event finals. "I felt really confident about my routines, but things didn't go that way," Banville told, "I guess I was a little too confident...! I was very disappointed, but the experience helped my determination."

Banville spent the rest of the summer preparing for her next big competition, the 2002 Elite Canada. With renewed enthusiasm and a healthy body, she was ready for the meet, which was held just minutes from her home gym in Gatineau, Quebec. There, Banville had her best competition to date, hitting near four-for-four to take fifth place overall. Competing several new elements (high full-in double pike, followed by a 1 1/2 to 2 1/2, and a double pike on floor; powerful Yurchenko-full first vault; Ivantcheva (RO 1/2-on, tucked front) second vault), Banville showed that she is ready to compete against the best Canada had to offer, and will be a rising star in 2003.

2nd AA at 2003 Elite Canada

2003 Updates: Banville was added to the senior national team following her 5th place finish at the 2002 Elite Canada competition, and what followed was a long series of successful international assignments for her. In January, she traveled to Australia for the Youth Olympic Festival, where she helped Canada win a bronze medal in the team competition. Individually she earned a spot in the floor exercise finals, where she finished 5th. In March, she led her Canadian team to victory over Great Britain at the Jurassic Classic, and later that month she helped her team to third place behind two strong US squads – and ahead of the favoured Australians – at the Pacific Challenge in California. At this competition, Banville earned Canada’s highest score on floor exercise. As a result of her early season competitive success, Banville was selected to compete with her Canadian teammates at the prestigious 8-country tournament in the Netherlands. She helped her team to an impressive 6th place finish, where they beat a talented team from Ukraine. Banville impressed on the uneven bars, showing a new sequence of giant 1 ˝ to overshoot ˝ handstand, as well as a strong double layout dismount. She also made floor finals, upgrading her middle run to a 1 ˝ twist through to triple twist.

Vaulting at the
2003 World Championships

Photo by Grace Chiu

At the end of May, Banville approached the Canadian championships with an ever increasing confidence which translated to one of her best performances to date. First she captured the all-around silver medal – a remarkable jump from 19th the previous year! In the event finals, she won three gold medals, including the vault where she showed a Yurchenko 1 ˝ for the first time in competition. This result made Banville a favourite to make the team for the Pan American Games and World Championships. A slight miscue on vault on day one at the team trials in Toronto (she completed the last ˝ twist of her Yurchenko1 ˝ after landing) was her only glitch as she finished second overall behind teammate Heather Purnell to earn an automatic team berth – an amazing accomplishment for her club, which had never competed at this level before. Banville also earned the highest combined score on the uneven bars – an amazing result considering that during pre meet training, she suffered a very scary fall during a double layout dismount (she held on to the bar too long and crashed into the high bar).

At the Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic, Banville had a strong performance during both the team competition (where she helped her team finish an impressive second ahead of a talented squad from Brazil) and the all-around finals where she led the Canadian charge with a 5th place finish. The team dealt with illness due to the extreme heat conditions at the training and competition venues in the DR, of which the effects continued to linger as they traveled to Anaheim for the World Championships. With an Olympic team berth on the line, Banville delivered three strong routines for her team (two uncharacteristic falls from the balance beam dashed her hopes for an all-around finals berth), helping them finish in 11th plus, thus securing full team participation in Athens next year.

In a team interview with CBC, Banville reflected on her Olympic team prospects and made sure to add that “it’s not just the trials that count; it’s the whole year.” Should Banville match her strong series of competitions in 2003, her Olympic dream may well become a reality.

Written by: Christopher Scott
Updated 2003.14.09

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