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Crystal Gilmore

Following the recent Canadian championships, had the opportunity to catch up with 2000 Olympian, Crystal Gilmore. Gilmore was forced to miss the championships because of an injury, but that has not slowed her quest to represent Canada at this fall's world gymnastics championships.

Gilmore recently signed a letter of intent to compete at the University of Utah, but she will defer her entry into NCAA gymnastics until she feels she has fulfilled her duties to the Canadian national team.

Personal Facts:

Club: Cambridge Kips, Cambridge, Ontario
Coach: Elvira Saadi and Vladimir Kondratenko
Age: 18
Years in Gymnastics: 13
Level: Senior High Performance
Most Memorable National Competition: 1998 Canadian Championships
Most Memorable International Competition: 2000 Olympic Games
Favourite Event: Floor Exercise
Favourite Website: International Gymnast Online
High School: Jacob Hespeler Secondary School
Favourite Subject: English
Career Aspirations: sports team therapist, physiotherapist, doctor, teacher
Gilmore at the 2001 Spring Cup First of all, congratulations on all your success in gymnastics, and especially for your outstanding performance at the Sydney, as well as your letter of intent to the University of Utah. Crystal, you did not compete in the recent national championships, apparently due to injury. What was the injury, and how has it affected your preparation for the upcoming world championships?

Gilmore performs her trademark floor routine
at the 2000 Olympic Trials
CRYSTAL GILMORE: I did not compete at the recent Canadian Championships, due to a nagging injury in my ankle. It is getting much better now, and I have been able to start back to normal training once again! What are your thoughts on this fall's world championships? What are your goals for the competition? How are you preparing your routines for the tougher start values?

CG: I'm really hoping to make world's this year! During the summer, I'm want to train really hard, and upgrade my start values. I really want to go into the next season with confidence, clean routines, and be able to have a lot of fun doing it! Let's talk about your experience at the Sydney Olympics. Tell us a little bit about the sequence of events that unfolded between the time the rest of the team left New Zealand and the time you mounted the podium to compete your balance beam routine in the women's team preliminaries.

CG: There were a ton of events that occured from the time the team left for Sydney, to the time that I arrived in Sydney.

First of all, I was staying in New Zealand for three extra days and living in a house with the Hall family along with Lise Simard, the Women's Program Coordinator. Sasha, the man that I was staying with coached me at the local club, and from there we headed to Sydney.

On the beam at
Gymnastic Challenge 2000

When we arrived, we took a cab from the airport to Canada House where Lise Simard would be staying, and got her settled in. I was scheduled to stay with a family, who I would meet up with later on that day. We couldn't find a bus to take us to podium training, and after walking up and down streets for over an hour we realized we were very late for the podium training. As the alternate for the team, I was not eligible for any tickets, prior to arriving in Sydney. I had a very tough time purchasing tickets to see my teammates. We eventually were able to purchase most of the women's gymnastics tickets over the Internet and through other sources, even though they had been sold out for months. I did not have the tickets in my posession yet, as they had to be picked up at the ticket booth when I arrived.

By the time we arrived at the SuperDome, I heard Yvonne's floor music playing when I was going up the escalator. I quickly rushed up the stairs to catch the very end of her routine, and a moment later there was a delayed clapping from the capacity crowd, and I looked down onto the floor and saw one of my teammates being taken off the floor in a stretcher. I did not know who it was at that point in time, but I could feel my heart sink down to my knees, and I didn't know what to think. I had no idea what had just happened, and I was feeling very sick to my stomach. I went outside afterwards, with some of the coaches, and they told me that Emilie Fournier had hurt her ankle during her floor routine, and they didn't know the extent of the injury. At that point, I went back to the Canada House to stay over night with the coaches and prepared to train the following morning.

So the next morning, I went to the training gym and was met by the rest of my teammates and coaches, although it was very sad that Emilie was absent as we had all trained together for the five weeks prior to the Games. As a team, we all had established a very close bond, and didn't want anything unfortunate to happen to one another. The sport of gymnastics is very unpredictable at times, and what happened to Emilie was very devastating.

Following the training, we went back to Canada House. I still hadn't received accreditation at that time, so I was unable to move into the Athlete's Village with the rest of the team, and the decision had not yet been made regarding Emilie and her ability to compete or not.

Finally, the next morning it was decided that she would be unable to compete. The day before the competition, I went with my coach, Elvira, to the Accreditation Center at about 6 am, to enable me access into the Athlete's Village. By the time all the paperwork had been done, it was the afternoon, and I had a couple of hours before training. At that training session, I was told that I would compete on beam, and was beginning to feel nervous but excited. The day of the competition had come, and I hadn't yet touched the competition equipment. The only time I was able to do so was the 30 seconds prior to competing, so I was VERY nervous about that. But I also knew that I had trained my routine many many times and could do it! (Ed: Crystal performed what many consider to be the best balance beam routine of her life that day!)

We were all so excited once we had finished the competition and had done our all time best as a team!! You were not a part of the 1999 Pan American Games or world championship teams. Did that affect your goals coming into the Olympic year? What were your emotions when you were named team alternate for Sydney?

CG: I was named the alternate to the 99 Pan Am Team, and dislocated my elbow during day 2 of the World Trials. But that did not affect me in any way going into the Olympic year. I was full of confidence and was as ready as ever. I was really happy that I had made the alternate position for Olympics, it was a tough competition. I was really disappointed after the fall off bars on day 1 of the trials, ( Ed: Crystal suffered a frightening fall on her dismount, landing on her head. A full report of the 2000 Olympic Trials is available here.), but I was really glad that I was able to pull through and do well in day 2!
Receiving congratulations from Monica Covacci
at the 2000 Olympic Trials Many fans consider your current floor routine to be one of the best-choreographed in the world. How did the routine and music get selected and choreographed? Did you have a hard time learning to express yourself in such a dramatic fashion?

CG: Thank you! My choreography was done by Ludmilla Tolkochov, who helps us all at the Cambridge Kips, and was a international rhythmic gymnast herself. She has been able to produce some amazing floor routines over the years!! I did have quite a hard time learning the new dramatic fashion, however once I got the hang of it, and after many many repetitions, I was able become more expressive and have a real feel for the music. 1998 was a big year for you. First you almost won the senior national title, then you were named to the Commonwealth Games team. Were you expecting that much success so early in your career? How did you feel about your experience in Kuala Lumpur?

CG: 1998 was definitely a major year for me. I was very surprised at how well I had done! It was very exciting to be able to do so well at nationals and at the Commonwealth Games as well as represent Canada at the World Youth Games. I wasn't really expecting so much this early in my career, but it was definitely a great experience that I'll never forget.
A young Gilmore at the
1998 Canadian championships Tell us a little bit about your relationship with Yvonne Tousek. How is the adjustment in the gym with Yvonne gone? How has this changed your perspective on training and competition?

CG: Yvonne and I are very close. It has been really awkward in the gym without her this year, because we used to train side by side each and every day. I really look up to Yvonne, she has always been a great role model to every gymnast! I still train as hard as usual, but it is definitely much different without her in the gym, and her presence is missed a lot by everyone. She is doing great at university! You've been working with your coaches, Elvira Saadi and Vladimir Kondratenko, for a number of years. How do you feel they have affected your career and outlook on the sport of gymnastics? How would you characterize them as coaches?
Listening intently to instructions
from coach Saadi

CG: Elvira and Valody have coached me for many years, and have always been there for me through the good days and the bad days. They make a great duo, and I respect them a lot. They both have special aspects that they bring to the gym, and together, they sure know how to coach some great gymnastics! They are wonderful people, I don't think gymnastics would be the same if they weren't my coaches, because they truly understand each and every gymnast that they teach from the inside out, and are both terrific coaches!! Thank you so much for your time, Crystal, and best of luck this year and beyond!

A video of Crystal's floor routine is available here

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