U of T's Rosie MacLennan in action during the Gymnastics Trampoline Olympic Qualification round January 13, 2012 in London, England (Photo by Paul Gilham / Getty Images Europe)

U of T at the Olympics: Rosie MacLennan

Already an established name as a trampoline gymnast, Rosannagh (Rosie) MacLennan began international competition at the age of 11. Her recent successes include a first place finish at the 2011 Pan American Games, just before her fall convocation and two Trampoline World Cup gold medals.

Before heading to London for her second straight summer Olympics, MacLennan spoke with writer Gavin Au-Yeung about trampolines and international competition.

How did you feel when you first learned you would be participating in the Games?
My partner [Karen Cockburn] and I ultimately secured our place in the Olympics after the 2011 Trampoline World Championships in Birmingham. In order to get two spots for Canada in the Games, we had to be in the Top Eight. We were confident in our training and what we did to put ourselves in the best position to earn the two spots.

And we were beyond ecstatic; it was our goal to get the two spots. The following week was really successful and it fuelled our motivation to get back to training.

Recently, you placed first in the Trampoline World Cup in Arosa, Switzerland: how does this affect your confidence heading to London?
I had just come off a bad performance in Spain. The nature of our sport is very volatile. It’s a one shot deal, and anything can happen on the day of the competition.

So going into Switzerland, I really wanted to put out the best performance I could. Having Karen and I both place ahead of the Chinese team is a huge confidence boost. They are extremely dominant, and I always study their videos. The fact we were able to pull ahead of them in the last competition before the Games will definitely motivate us leading into the next month of training.

Tell us a bit about preparing for the Games.
On a weekly basis, we are on the trampoline nine times for about two hours each session. Furthermore, I work on strength and conditioning two to three times a week – working with weights, plyometric exercises and cardio. We also have two sessions a week of Pilates to work on flexibility and core strength.

(You can see MacLennan on the trampoline here.)

What’s the environment like in the Olympic Village?
If you think about it, the Village is filled with thousands of the world’s top athletes. It’s interesting to see all the athletes training for their particular sport. And you never know who you’ll bump into at any given time. It’s a really interesting dynamic because we all have the same passion for sport. And it’s a really motivating atmosphere to be in.

The environment of the Village changes as the Games progress. At the beginning every athlete is completely focused on training and events. By the end, it’s much more relaxed. People become more outgoing and social. It’s a very friendly environment.

Is there a particular athlete/event you want to watch in London?
I want to be able to watch as many of the other Canadian athletes as I can. That’s one of the best parts about being at the Games – you really feel like part of the Canadian team when cheering each other on.

One sport I really enjoy to watch is diving, because there are a lot of similarities between our sports. I can appreciate the dive and the form of the athletes.

But to be honest, I would watch anything.

How did you get into trampoline?
As the youngest of four, I watched my siblings practice gymnastics. They’ve always loved the trampoline aspect of the training. My mom wanted to take my brothers to a new gym from an ad she had found. And because she couldn’t find a babysitter for me, I just tagged along and tried it out.

My gym [Skyriders Trampoline Place] is the top gym in Canada, and maybe even the world, based on the quality of equipment and the success we have had. Athletes from all over the world train from the gym – you get to see all sorts of different styles, training methods and tricks. 

How did you get involved with international level competition?
The Olympics became a dream of mine when I watched Karen and Matt [Mathieu Turgeon] compete in the 2000 Games. That was the first time trampoline was an Olympic event. I started dreaming more about competing and I learned from Karen and the older athletes from my gym.

I made it onto the national senior team when I was 16; it was during this time that competing in the 2008 Games became my goal.

Has the public perception of trampoline changed in the past few years?
It’s growing, I mean, it wasn’t even an Olympic event when I started. When I told people I did trampoline, they would look flabbergasted, they didn’t know what it was.

The sport is gaining publicity, partly from the success we’ve had from the past Games. We have five medals from three Olympics. So more people know about it, and more people are willing to try it out.

There’s also been a lot more cross-training between sports. Athletes in big air competitions and freestyle skiing are using trampolines. A lot more people are getting to know about the sport, and I hope it keeps growing.

What advice would you give someone who may want to start trampoline?
Trying it at a recreational class is a great way to start; there are tons of gyms in the GTA. Because it’s different from other sports, you do need it approach it with an open mind. Trampoline is a fun way to challenge yourself and to stay fit.

How has your time at U of T influenced who you are today?
The University has always been really supportive of me. The faculty has been amazing with helping me balance school and training and letting me excel in both. I’ve learned about many new subjects and they’ve become things I’m really passionate about learning. In a way, it has helped me change the way I think when approaching a situation. I look at all the information possible, and organize through it.

What’s in store for you after the Games?
I recently graduated in the fall (2011), and this year I’ve focused on my training. But I’m starting my master’s program this coming fall at the University of Toronto.

I try to push off on making career choices right now. But I’m really interested in corporate development, health promotion. And obviously, I’m really passionate about sports, healthy living and active lifestyle.

Although, anything beyond August 4th is a bit of a blur for me (laughs). 

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