"Working hard achieves success. Grit your teath and bear it!"
Date of Birth: December 16, 1988|
Hometown: Vancouver, BC
Club: Omega Gymnastics
Coaches: Vladimir and Svetlana Lashin
Previous Clubs: Pheonix Gymnastics, Flicka gym club
Training Hours per Week: 31
Favourite Event: Floor
Favourite Gymnasts: Kate Richardson, Yekaterina Lobaznyuk, Verona Van de leur, Svetlana Khorkina, and Lyudmila Yezhova.
Hobbies: Reading, Horse back riding, drawing, hiking, piano.
Long term goal: 2004 Olympic Games
Favourite Food: Yogurt, mango, and chicken.
|Gael's Competitive Results|
2000 Bluewater International
2000 Canadian Championships, Novice: 12th AA
2000 Elite Canada, Novice: 3rd AA
2001 Canadian Championships, Novice: 2nd AA, 1st V, 5th UB, 6th BB, 3rd FX
2001 Elite Canada, Junior: 10th AA, 2nd UB, 2nd FX
2002 WOGA International, Junior: 4th AA, 8th V, 3rd BB, 4th FX
2002 Jurassic Classic: 2nd T, 8th AA, 7th UB, 5th BB, 8th FX
2002 Great West Gymfest: 1st AA
2002 Pacific Alliance Championships, Junior: 7th AA, 4th V, 2nd BB
2002 Canadian Championships, Junior: 1st AA, 1st V, 2nd UB, 4th BB, 1st FX
2002 Junior Pan Am Games: 2nd T, 6th AA, 5th V, 3rd UB, 5th BB, 2nd FX
2002 Elite Canada: 2nd AA, 2nd V, 1st UB, 2nd FX
2003 Australian Youth Olympic Festival: 3rd T, 3rd AA, 5th V, 3rd UB, 6th BB, 2nd FX
2003 Pacific Challenge (USA vs AUS vs CAN): 3rd T, 21st AA
2003 Achtlandentoernooi (8-country meet): 6th T
2003 Canadian Championships, Senior: 1st AA, 6th UB, 3rd BB, 5th FX
2003 Pan Am/World team trials: 5th AA
2003 Pan Am Games: 2nd T
2003 Massilia Cup: 14th AA
2003 Elite Canada: 2nd T AA,, 4th UB, 1st BB, 3rd FX
2004 International Friendship event (Karolyi ranch): 9th AA, 2nd V, 4th BB
2004 Canadian Championships, Senior: 26th AA (1 event only)
2004 Olympic Trials: 9th AA (5 out of 8 events)
2004 Olympic Games: 10th T, 95th AA (1 event)
2004 Ghent World Cup:6th UB, 11th BB (prelims) 7th FX (prelims)
2004 Massilia Cup: 3rd T, 7th FX
2005 USA-CAN-MEX: 2nd T, 5th UB, 12th BB
2005 Ghent World Cup: 4th UB
2005 DTB Cup: 11th UB (prelims), 13th BB (prelims)
2005 Glasgow Grand Prix: 6th UB
2006 Commonwealth Games: 3rd T, 7th AA
2006 Canadian National Championships: 2nd AA, 3rd UB, 4th BB, 3rd FX
|Mackie at the '04 Olympic Trials|
The Mackie family is no stranger to gymnastics. Father Bill Mackie made Canada's 1968 and 1972 Canadian men's gymnastics teams (but untimely injuries forced him to withdraw from both teams), and mother Susan competed as a junior at Western's and Nationals. Gael is the middle child in the Mackie household, with brother Owen a two-time Canadian nationals competitor and younger sister Charlotte a novice gymnast.
Gael started gymnastics at age 3, quickly progressing into a strong novice competitor. At the close of her novice career, in mid-2001, Gael placed second at Canadian Nationals (Novice portion), winning vault and placing third on floor during finals. Gael's first test at junior High Performance came some six months later, at Elita Canada. Gael began on beam, an apparatus on which Gael has recently enjoyed her greatest success, but which is not her favourite. "I had a terrible beam. I fell four times!... My jumps were all off - everything was terrible. I was so nervous!"
|Winning gold on beam|
at '03 Elite Canada
Learning how to overcome a bad event and finding success throughout the rest of a meet is an important lesson for gymnasts, and Gael proved to have the mindset for elite gymnastics by blocking out the disastrous routine, turning in scores on bars and floor that were high enough to qualify her to event finals the following day. Gael took advantage of the opportunity to make her mark, subsequently placing second on both bars and floor.
Early in the 2002 season, Mackie and her team mates travelled to Plano, TX for the 2002 WOGA Classic. The experience was a good one for Gael, prepping her for would become a full season of international assignments for Canada. Gael spoke to Gymn.ca in a post-meet interview, " 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...It’s people I’ve never competed against, but I’ve seen them on TV. They’re role models!" Competing against the likes of USA's Carly Patterson, Hollie Vise and the Ukraine's Irina Krasnyanska, Mackie placed fourth in the all-around and tied for bronze on the balance beam.
In March, Mackie represented Canada at the Great West Gymfest in Idaho. She performed well, so when injury forced Melanie Banville to withdraw from the Jurassic Classic at the last minute, Mackie was top on the list to step in for team Canada.
At the end of March, with all of Canada's invitationals finished and strengths and weaknesses assessed, Gymnastics Canada Gymnastique announced that Mackie would be one of three juniors to compete at the bi-annual Pacific Alliance Championships, to be held in Mackie's backyard. In Burnaby, Canada's women earned two medals; Heather Purnell's bronze on floor exercise and Mackie's silver on beam. The routine celebrated Gael's obvious strength - flexibility - with trademark poses, mixed with unique series (Onodi tick-tock to a layout) and jumps and turns.
Mackie also made vault finals at the Championships, proof positive of the value of upgrading vaults (during the competitive season she upgraded from the tucked Yurchenko-full to the layout position).
As Mackie's career progresses, she continues to add skills and refine her routines. Although she will remain under the guidance of Russian emigrees Vladimir and Svetlana Lashin, the influence of new Omega coach Lyudmila Lobaznyuk (mother of 2000 Russian Olympian Ekaterina Lobaznyuk) may appear in more than just her floor routine, which is danced to "Hava Nagila."
|Mackie shows delightful dance|
at model training prior to '03 Worlds.
2003 Update: After a strong second place finish at Elite Canada to end her 2002 season, Mackie was invited to compete at the American Cup in early March. Unfortunately, a foot injury forced her to withdraw from the event, but she was back in less than a month, competing with her Canadian team at the Pacific Challenge competition in California. At the beginning of May, she was part of another team Canada effort at the 8-country tournament in the Netherlands, where the team impressed audience with its 6th place finish – beating the favoured Ukrainians. Though Mackie herself struggled with consistency in these two competitions, she gained valuable international experience, which certainly helped her as she approached the Canadian Championships in Saskatoon at the end of May. There, she nailed a strong four for four performance to capture the senior women’s all-around title – the first since Monica Covacci in 1985 to win back to back junior and senior women’s crowns.
|with little sister Charlotte|
(a novice gymnast)
Photo by Don Johnson.
Mackie’s nationals win set her up well for team selection for the Pam American Games and world championships. At the team trials in Toronto in July, Mackie hit 7 for 8 – with only a fall on bars on day one marring her effort. After a fifth place finish in the all-around after both days, Mackie was named to both teams. Once at the Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic, the Canadian women’s team suffered through illness and dehydration due to the extreme heat conditions in the gymnastics training hall and competition venue. None was struck worse than Mackie, who was forced to withdraw from the competition altogether. She told CBC sports that “I really wanted to compete but when I warmed up I just felt sick and dizzy.” She sat on the sidelines as her teammates won a silver medal in the team competition.
Mackie then traveled with her teammates to Anaheim, California for the World Championships. Following podium training (where she skipped the vault apparatus and showed modified dismounts off beam and bars with heavily wrapped heels), Mackie was named team alternate and as she had done two weeks prior, she watched from the sidelines as her teammates competed. The team’s 11th place finish in Anaheim secured their full team participation at next year’s Olympic Games. Perhaps missing out on the competitive experience at the world championships will give Mackie even more determination as she works to achieve her goal of competing in Athens next year.