Karen Kelsall (CAN)
1975 Canadian pre-Olympic trials: 18th AA
1975 Pan American Games: 13th AA, 5th FX
1976 Calgary International: 2nd V, 2nd B, 3rd UB
1976 Canada vs ROM: 12th AA
1976 Canadian Junior National Championships: 1st AA plus three golds in EF
1976 Canadian Olympic trials: 3rd AA
1976 Olympic Games: 9th T, 27th AA
1976 Chunichi Cup: 9th or 10th AA (discrepancy in
1976 Fiesta Bowl: 4th AA
1977 American Cup: 3rd AA
1977 Moscow News: 8th AA
1977 Riga International: 8th or 15th AA (discrepancy in sources)
1977 Ontario Cup: 1st AA
1977 British Columbian Championships: 1st AA
1977 Canadian Nationals: 1st AA, 1st V, 1st BB, 1st FX
1977 Coca-Cola Limited International: 1st AA
1977 Canada vs USA: 1st AA
1978 CAN-BUL Dual Meet: 3rd AA
1978 CAN Nationals: 2nd AA
1978 Commonwealth Games: 1st T, 4th AA
1978 KIPS Invitational: 5th UB
1978 Pacific Rim Championships: 7th AA
1978 Shanghai International: 5th UB
1978 World Championships: 17th AA
1978 World Cup: 10th AA, 8th UB, 7th FX
KIPS Invitational: 3rd UB, 5th BB
1980 Caesar's Palace Invitational: 6th AA
1980 Canadian National Championships: 1st AA
1980 Capital Cup: 6th AA
1980 Cottbus International: 9th AA, 6th UB, 7th FX
1980 KIPS Invitational: 4th AA, 3rd UB, 2nd FX
1980 2nd US National Elites: 4th AA, 2nd UB, 3rd BB
Results courtesy of Gymn
Forum's Karen Kelsall biography and Boulogne's The Making of a Gymnast:
The Karen Kelsall Story.
Karen Kelsall was born on December
11, 1962. At age two, Karen's family moved from Canada to Fresno, California.
An active child, Karen's mother enrolled her daughter in dance lessons.
Recognizing Karen's natural acrobatic ability, one of her dance instructors
suggested that Karen take up gymnastics. At age 8, Karen began recreational
Within a year, Karen had switched
from recreational to competitive gymnastics. A year after this, in 1972, Karen
was the State champion on floor for her age group (Class II). Interestingly,
this first gold medal lies at the bottom of a river. Soon after the meet, the
family went camping. The gold medal was in Mrs. Kelsall's purse for safe
keeping, but during a canoe ride the canoe tipped and Mrs. Kelsall's purse
sank to the bottom of the river!
Karen's family eventually returned
to Canada, settling in Surrey, BC. Karen joined North Vancouver's Flicka
Gymnastics (incidentally, this is where Romanian's Celestina Popa now coaches
and is also the home gym of Lise Leveille, who was recently named to Canada's
Olympic gymnastics team). In 1975, at only 12 years of age, Karen took part in
Canada's first pre-Olympic trial. She finished a disappointing 18th AA (out of
24) and believed that all hopes for the 1976 Montreal Olympics were gone.
Karen considered giving up the sport.
Rather than quitting, Karen
decided that a gym change was in order. Karen moved to Eugene, Oregon to train
at the prestigious National Academy of Artistic Gymnastics under
Dick Mulvihill and Linda Metheny Mulvihill. After having trained only one
month with the Mulvihills, Karen was selected to represent Canada at the 1975
Pan Am Games in Mexico City. Karen placed 13th AA and 5th on FX - not bad for
her first international competition!
With her confidence renewed, Karen
decided to aim once again for the Montreal Olympics. Karen was still
relatively new on the Canadian scene, so it was important for her to seize
advantage of every possible opportunity to show her skills and make a name for
herself among the judges. The Canadian Olympic trials process was obviously
important, but so were Canadian Nationals and any invitationals leading up to
the team's selection.
Still technically a junior, Karen
participated in the junior portion of the 1976 Canadian National
Championships. She won the AA easily, and scooped up golds on three of four
event finals. Successful performances at various invitationals (e.g., 12th AA
at the 1976 Canada vs Romania dual meet) confirmed Karen as a potential
Olympian. Indeed, by the time the final Olympic trials rolled around, Karen
had improved enough to place third AA and earn a spot on Canada's 1976 Olympic
women's gymnastics team.
At 13, Karen was the youngest
competitor at the 1976 Montreal Olympics (although 14 was the minimum age, the
Canadian Gymnastics Federation persuaded the F.I.G. to allow Karen to compete
given that she turned 14 in the Olympic calendar year). Despite her tender
age, Karen performed extremely well at the Olympics. She helped Canada to its
9th place team finish and individually was the top ranked Canadian going into
the all-around competition.
For the All-around competition,
Karen competed in the same group as Olga Korbut. Upon learning that Karen was
the youngest Olympian, Korbut apparently took great care in guiding Karen to
each new event! Individually, Karen placed 27th in the AA.
Karen continued to compete
following the Montreal Olympics, enjoying top 10 finishes at such events as
the 1976 Chunichi Cup, 1977 American Cup, and 1977 Moscow News. Karen was
expected to win the Canadian National title that year, but a miss on her
optional bar routine threatened her placement. She rushed her mount, breaking
her rhythm. Although she had to count a fall on bars, her scores from
compulsories and her remaining optional events were high even to keep Karen in
first place. Karen topped off the meet with golds on vault, balance beam, and
floor exercise. A fifth gold may have been within reach were it not for Karen
withdrawing from bars final because of painful blisters on her hands.
On the heals of her 1977 success,
a book about Karen and her gymnastics was written and released. The book,
entitled The Making of a Gymnast: The Karen Kelsall Story, and
published in 1978, is a treasure for all gymnastics fans.
That same year, Karen joined Elfi
Schlegel (now a colour commentator for NBC Sports), Monica Goermann, and
Sherry Hawko in representing Canada at the 1978 Commonwealth Games. The girls
earned the gold medal in the team competition, and individually Karen placed
4th AA. Karen also competed in the World Championships and World Cup that
year, placing a respectable 17th AA at Worlds and improving at the World Cup
(10th AA). Karen also made two event finals at the World Cup, bars (placed
8th) and floor (placed 7th).
Karen experienced a quiet 1979,
but returned to full strength in 1980. Indeed, 1980 was a big year for Karen
with the 1980 Moscow Olympics just around the corner. A first place finish at
the 1980 Canadian National Championships virtually guaranteed Karen a spot on
Canada's Olympic women's gymnastics team. Sadly, Canada joined the 1980 Moscow
Olympic boycott. Karen, and many other deserving athletes, were denied the
College was looming for Karen, and
she decided to continue her gymnastics at the NCAA level, competing for the University of California at
Berkeley. Karen eventually graduated with two Bachelor of Arts degrees (physical
education and dramatic art-dance), opting to pursue the dance route. She moved
to New York City and performed as a modern dancer.
After a few years, Karen
moved back West to Portland, Oregon. There she attend and graduate Cum Laude
from the Western States
Chiropractic College. Over the years Karen
has supplemented her chiropractic education with massage therapy training (she
is also a licensed massage therapist) and graduate training in trigger point
therapy, NIMMO technique, Craniosacral therapy, active muscle stretching, and deep tissue techniques.
She now owns Kelsall Chiropractic.
Many thanks to Mark Welch for providing me with a copy of
The Making of a Gymnast: The Karen Kelsall Story and to Kristen Farless for updating me about
. This page was created on July 22, 2000.