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Lise Léveillé

Lise's Competitive Results
1995 Elite Canada, North York: Junior - 4th AA
1996 Elite Canada: Junior - 2nd AA, 1st BB, 5th UB
1997 Canadian Championships, Ottawa: Junior - 4th AA, 4th BB, 5th VT & FX
1997 Junior Pacific Alliance, USA: Gold BB, Silver VT, 5th FX, 7th AA
1998 Canadian Championships: 10th AA, 8th BB
1998 Commonwealth Games, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Bronze Medals BB & T
1998 Elite Canada, North York, ON: 8th AA, 2nd BB, 8th VT
1998 Pacific Alliance Championships, Winnipeg: 4th T, 4th BB, 12th AA
1998 Sagit Cup: BB Exhibition
1998 Wild Rose International, Edmonton: 14th AA, 8th FX

1999 Canada vs. USA Challenge, North York: 1st TM, 5th BB
1999 Canadian Championships, Burnaby, BC: 2nd AA, 1st BB, 2nd FX, 3rd VT & UB
1999 Pan American Games, Winnipeg, MB: Gold Medal T and BB, 5th AA
1999 Stars of the World, Moscow, RUS: Bronze Medal BB, 8th AA
1999 World Championships, Tianjin, CHN: 10th T, 24th BB
2000 FRA-GER-CAN-GBR Team Challenge, Rodez, FRA: 3rd T, 2nd BB
2000 Olympic Trials, Toronto: 5th AA
2000 Olympic Games, Sydney, AUS: 9th T, 34th BB, 51st AA (prelim)

NCAA Competition (Stanford)

2001 NCAA Championships, Athens, GA: 11th FX

Lise at Olympic Trials
In the development of any great team, there must be a balance between the personalities and abilities of its components. A great team needs a fearless leader, enthusiastic newcomers, experienced veterans, outspoken cheerleaders, and those who lead by silent example. Of all the roles an individual can take in a team the one that comes with the most sacrifice is the player who commits herself entirely to the betterment of the group. To this individual comes less fame and glory, for her individual desires come second to her responsibilities to the team, but when the competition is over, she is the one who deserves the greatest thanks. Every great team needs this special role player, and in Canada the spirit of teamwork is most ably embodied by 2000 Olympian Lise Leveille.

For three years, Leveille toiled as Canada's lead-off gymnast in team competition, and none of her duties were more important than her trademark position first up on the balance beam. A born beamer, Leveille's ultra-calm style translates well to the apparatus that requires nerves of steel, and her innate ability to focus from one element to the next gave head coach Andrei Rodionenko the confidence to put Leveille up first whenever Canada's international reputation was on the line. Through a host of major team events, including the world championships, and Commonwealth, Pan American, and Olympic Games, Leveille went up first on balance beam and never missed a set.

While Leveille's beam prowess earned her a stellar reputation in Canada, it also gave the British Columbia native the opportunity to earn a number of awards internationally. Included in her impressive resume are bronze medals from the 1998 Commonwealth Games and the 1999 Moscow Stars of the World event, a fourth place finish at the 1998 Pacific Alliance Championships, and gold medals at the 1997 Junior Pacific Alliance Championships and 1999 Pan American Games, all on the balance beam.

While balance beam was Leveille's specialty, she earned her way into Canada's top group of gymnasts because of her abilities as an all-around gymnast. As early as 1993, Leveille, who was coached by Nancy Beyer and Flaviu Toma at the Flicka gymnastics club in Burnaby, B.C., was placing among the country's best, allowing her to qualify for the junior high performance team at the tender age of 11. In 1998 Leveille moved to the senior ranks, and struggled somewhat, placing only 10th at the national championships after difficulties on the uneven bars on day two. By 1999, however, Leveille had hit her stride, and her new-found confidence translated into an impressive 2nd-place all-around finish at the national championships in front of her hometown crowd. The most remarkable part of Leveille's performance at nationals was a score of 9.900 for her day one balance beam effort, which contributed greatly to her finishing within four tenths of Beaulieu's winning total.

Although Leveille never missed a major international competition due to injury, she did struggle with her health between the 1999 world championships and the 2000 Olympic Trials. As a result of a lingering foot injury, Leveille had to miss the 2000 Canadian championships, and had to make the Olympic Trials her first major competition of the year. Seemingly unfazed by the pressure, Leveille moved calmly through the competition, breaking only during her day two uneven bar routine.

When it came time to prepare for the team competition in Sydney, Leveille was working under the impression that she would compete only one routine, the balance beam, in Canada's preliminary round effort. This well thought-out game plan quickly fell by the wayside, however, when teammate Emilie Fournier suffered a devastating ankle fracture during podium training. With just two days until the competition, and with Canada struggling to field a team of healthy gymnasts, Leveille was called upon to compete all four apparatus in the women's team competition.

With little mental preparation, Leveille was forced into the unenviable position of having to compete first or second on three of Canada's four events. Like the consummate team player she was, Leveille responded admirably on her first two events. She moved effortlessly through her uneven bar routine, and exhibited her usual nerves of steel the balance beam, where she posted an impressive 9.412 for her teammates to build upon. Unfortunately, Leveille's perfect record as a lead-off gymnast was dashed when she stumbled through her typically stellar floor exercise routine, performed to music from Lord of the Dance. Leveille had worked hard to upgrade her tumbling to a world class level, and had added a new piked front through to triple twist combination just in time for the Olympic Trials. The tricky floor mat in Sydney's Superdome was unforgiving to so many of the world's best gymnasts, however, and it caused Leveille to miscalculate the timing on her usually stable 2 twist/punch front second pass.

While she stayed on her feet for her final double pike, this was a cruel and frustrating turn of events for Leveille, for not only did the error prevent her from qualifying to the all-around finals, but it stands as the only blemish on her otherwise perfect track record as a competitor for team Canada.

Thankfully, Canada's competition did not finish on the floor exercise, and Leveille was able to end her Olympic experience as Canada's last performer with a stuck handspring piked-front vault, as well as well-earned celebration with her teammates for their ninth-place showing. For the 18 year-old Leveille, Sydney was her last performance as a member of team Canada, since she had already signed a letter of intent to compete for Stanford University in the fall of 2000.

As the world prepares to move into a new quadrennium, the face of many gymnastics teams will evolve as the quest for world and Olympic success renews itself. For Canada, this means the search for a new team player - a new Lise Leveille - must begin in earnest, for no team can expect greatness without someone who is willing to go up first.

CGC honours Lise Leveille
for hercontribution to Canadian Gymnastics

Photo by Don Johnson.

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