Cockburn hoping to make history for Canada

London – GBR, August 04, 2012: There are few people better qualified to speak about the growth of Trampoline as an Olympic sport than Karen Cockburn. After all, the fourth Olympic Games featuring Trampoline Gymnastics also happen to be the fourth for the 31-year-old Canadian.

Cockburn was there in Sydney for Trampoline’s introduction to the Olympic Gymnastics programme and won the Bronze medal – the first of her three appearances on the podium. She recalled: “It was the first time for Trampoline so people didn’t know what it was – they thought it was a demonstration sport. I was 19 at the time, I didn’t even know what was going on. It is still a blur – it is 12 years ago, I have completely changed and grown in that time.”

The same goes for her sport. “The level has gone up hugely since Sydney,” said Cockburn. “It has been great to see it go from pre-Olympics to this, it has been amazing to see it evolve and I hope it keeps moving forward and stays in the Olympics programme. It is a great sport, I am glad the world can see it and see the exciting things we do.”

That first Olympics for the discipline also featured a Bronze medal for Cockburn’s husband, Mathieu Turgeon in the men’s Trampoline event. The difference between then and now, she explains, is remarkable. “When I started, we were massaging each other, we paid to go everywhere, me and my husband made our own weight training programme. It was basically us and our coach Dave [Ross].”

Ross remains the constant but otherwise all has changed. “Now we still have a great facility because of Dave but we also have this extra support which is amazing – video analysis, flight time machines, it is so different. I am a little spoiled now,” said Cockburn, who, away from gymnastics, is studying to become a holistic nutritionist.

Cockburn can make history if she wins a medal in the women’s event on Saturday: she would become the first Canadian to take a medal from four consecutive Summer Games having previously taken one Bronze and two Silvers.

Of her prospects this time she said: “For me it is just giving it my best, I have done all the training, I have put all the time in so I have no regrets, it is just hopefully I am going to hit the performance on the day,” she explained. “I have done all I need to do so I already feel in a good place and happy with all my preparation.”

Those preparations included taking Bronze and Silver medals in the last two World Cup events prior to London – in Albacete, Spain and Arosa, Switzerland respectively. Her team-mate Rosie MacLennan finished first in the latter event, though Cockburn knows there are no guarantees in the 16-strong field that includes favourites Shanshan Huang and Li Dan of China.

“It is a really strong field this year so the first goal is just a great preliminary performance to make it into the final and then just go out and hopefully your performance is enough,” she said.

Noting the excitement and enthusiasm of Canada’s Women’s Artistics Gymnastics team – “it is fun rooming with a bunch of teenagers” – she reflected on her own experience fourth time round. The Olympics remain something “special”, the Opening Ceremony was “awesome” but she is now able to approach her competition with a sense of composure.

“It definitely doesn’t feel as intimidating as it has with this being my fourth Games,” she said after podium training on Thursday. “It is still exciting, it doesn’t feel like old hat but I just feel calmer about it, which is a nice feeling.”

Canada’s MacLennan upsets Chinese rivals for Gold

Rosannagh MACLENNAN (CAN) soared from fifth place in the qualifications to win Gold in women’s Trampoline Gymnastics at North Greenwich Arena on Saturday.

In the eight-gymnast final, MACLENNAN earned the field’s top difficulty and execution scores, and the third-highest time of flight score, to place first with 57.305 points. She was the only gymnast to score more than 15 points in difficulty, where she notched 15.400. MACLENNAN placed seventh at Beijing 2008.

Athens 2004 Bronze medallist HUANG Shanshan (CHN) won Silver with 56.730 points. Consistent from the qualifications onwards, where she finished second, HUANG had the second-best difficulty, execution and time of flight scores of the final. Defending champion HE Wenna (CHN), the top qualifier, slipped on the landing of her final skill and dropped to third place with 55.950 points. Three-time medallist Karen COCKBURN (CAN) was fourth with 55.860 points.

Athens 2004 Gold medallist Anna DOGONADZE (GER), who at age 39 is the oldest gymnast in any Gymnastics discipline at London 2012, finished 10th in qualifications and did not advance to the final. Beijing 2008 Bronze medallist Ekaterina KHILKO (UZB) finished 12th in qualifications and did not advance to the final.

Canada’s MacLennan reaches new heights to claim Trampoline Gold

Rosannagh MacLennan produced the performance of a lifetime at just the right time to secure Canada’s first Gold medal of the 2012 Olympics in Saturday’s Women’s Trampoline final. MacLennan, who had only qualified for the final in fourth place, admitted she surprised herself after posting a huge score of 57.305 that neither of the two Chinese gold medal hopefuls, Huang Shanshan and He Wenna, was subsequently able to match. He, the defending champion and first-placed qualifier, had appeared on course to overtake her but, in a dramatic conclusion, fell at the end of her routine.

“I was shocked, it is the biggest score I have ever gotten,” MacLennan said of her winning routine. “I knew it would be a tough one to catch but you never want to get ahead of yourself, you want to wait until all the competitors are done.”

MacLennan’s Gold-medal triumph was the first by any female Canadian gymnast at the Olympics but there were mixed emotions after her team-mate Karen Cockburn finished out of the medals in fourth place. In her final Olympic Games, Cockburn was 0.09 points behind He, missing out on a fourth Olympic medal by the narrowest of margins. MacLennan paid tribute to her friend when she said: “It is definitely bittersweet. Our dream was to both be on the podium no matter which way it was. I wouldn’t be where I am in my sporting career without her pushing me and motivating me and also guiding me.”

For MacLennan, who had her whole family cheering her on inside the North Greenwich Arena, the feeling of winning Gold was incomparable. “I don’t think anything matches that experience, the honour and the pride you feel to be from Canada and [when] the amount of work you’ve put in has paid off,” said the 23-year-old, runner-up at last year’s World Championships.

She admitted she had been “a bit nervous” on her first routine, but come the final she delivered the routine of her dreams to establish a grip on the Gold, that none of the remaining competitors was able to loosen. “I was fourth going into the finals and that’s a really good place for me. You’ve nothing to lose.”

MacLennan scored 57.305, upping the difficulty of her routine to 15.400 and earning 25.600 for execution. “The difficulty definitely helped,” she added. “I had a bit of an advantage over the other competitors going in with the difficulty but there is still the form and the height.”

That score increased the pressure on the Chinese and they failed to respond. Huang scored 56.730, and He fell at the end of her routine, suffering a 1.5 point penalty and surrendering her title in the process.

“When Shanshan finished I didn’t hear that much cheering so I knew she hadn’t got the Gold so the pressure increased for me,” said He, the reigning World Champion. Her fall left her with a score of 55.950, third behind Huang who managed 56.730. “It was a technical problem, it is because the height was not enough for the landing. I was a bit nervous.”

Her team-mate Shanshan was satisfied with a Silver medal to add to the Bronze she won at Athens 2004. “In my first Olympics I succeeded. In my second, I failed and this year, my third, I fulfilled my expectations and got a medal.” Shanshan, 26, also confirmed this would be her last Olympics as she switches her focus to studying physical education.

Cockburn would have loved to depart the Olympic stage with her own medal and believed it was in her grasp after He fell. “I thought I was going to be fourth then I thought for sure I was going to be third,” she said. “It was really disappointing but obviously I am really happy for Rosie, it is a good day for Canada to win a gold medal but I am disappointed too.”

“I thought my routine in the final was better than the preliminaries where I scored lower so I was shocked when my score came up, I thought it would be into the 56s. I am not sure what happened there, I guess the judges saw something,” added the 31-year-old.

While the final chapter of Cockburn’s exceptional career was written today, the North Greenwich Arena also witnessed the emergence of a potential star of the future in the 19-year-old American Savannah Vinsant , who posted a personal best of 54.965 to finish sixth.

“This gives me a lot of confidence,” said the USA’s first Trampoline finalist. “I was the youngest competitor here and making finals really hit the pace for me. I will work to get my difficulty, time of flight and execution better so that I can be up in the medals at the next Olympics.” —- FIG


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