|Plante finished 2nd at the|
'04 Olympic Trials
Amelie Plante is coached by Claude Pelletier and Francine
Bouffard at the Gymnix Club in Montreal, QC. Throughout the early part of her career, she had the opportunity to train alongside teammates Julie Beaulieu and Emilie Fournier, both of whom qualified to compete at the 2000 Olympic Games. After years in the shadows of her more decorated teammates, Plante successfully made a name for herself as one of Canada's best gymnasts in 2001, and went on to fulfill her own Olympic dream in 2004.
>P>Plante's national career began inauspiciously. While her teammates were regularly challenging for national titles, Plante's national championship performances left her a relatively anonymous 17th, 22nd, and 25th from 1996 to 1998. Finally, a breakthrough performance at the 1998 Elite Canada earned her a 12th place finish, and established Plante as a competitor to watch in 1999.
Plante began her 1999 competitive season with a second place all-around finish at the Canada Winter Games, where she showed a full twisting double layout dismount off the uneven bars that established her as one of the premier bar workers in the country. In March at the Gymnix International, she became the first Canadian to attempt the extremely difficult Def release move, and she still stands among only a handful of female athletes in the world to have performed this element, which is rated a Super E in the 2001-2004 Code of Points.
|3rd AA at '04 Nationals|
Plante later placed 13th all-around and an impressive sixth on beam at the 1999 Canadian championships, and was named second alternate for the 1999 Pan American Games team at a camp held shortly after the national championships.
Throughout the fall of 1999, Plante continued to improve, and after the final world championships selection camp, she was named team alternate, earning her the right to travel to Tianjin to train with and support her teammates. The result was certainly a remarkable one for the 16 year-old, who had risen to the top of Canadian gymnastics in barely more than a year.
Plante got her first taste of international competition outside of Canada following the 1999 world championships when she was selected to compete at the China Motor Cup. At this meet, she surprised the Canadian gymnastics community by placing a remarkable third all-around and also took home silver medals on both bars and floor. Plante was clearly making a name for herself as a threat for the upcoming Olympic year.
In 2000, determined to surprise again and make a name for herself, Plante competed in three big international meets before the national championships.
Her first meet in the new season was the Qantas International Challenge (the Olympic test event) which was won by her teammate, Fournier. Plante herself finished 24th all-around after inconsistencies throughout the meet. A week later, she had arguably her best showing in Canada to that point in her career, by placing fourth at the Gymnix International. Here Plante showed Canada her desire for Olympic consideration by adding new risky skills, including a whip-triple twist mount, set to dramatic music in a well-choreographed floor routine; a beam routine that included a round-off
to two-footed layout as well as a cartwheel-gainer double full dismount; a handspring-piked front on vault; and an intricate bar routine with difficult pirouette work into a Gienger release move (by the year 2000, Plante was performing her Def, which was quite inconsistent, less frequently to gain increased security on her best event). At this meet featuring many international stars from Australia, Ukraine, Argentina and Mexico, her result was impressive, as was her first place finish in the team event for Canada, with teammate Beaulieu. Plante also picked up a pair of silver medals on bars and floor, and her strong performances helped earn her a position on the Pacific Alliance Championships team for the second time (she competed on Canada's "B" team at the 1998 Pacific Alliance meet in Winnipeg). Canada placed a disappointing fifth place in the team event after an injury took out team captain Yvonne Tousek.
With her international reputation growing, and after having been named alternate for the 1999 world championship team, Plante entered 2000 with hopes of being named the alternate for the Olympic team. Despite her best efforts, however, the inconsistencies that often crept into Plante's gymnastics continued, and she missed out on selection after placing 8th at both the national championships and Olympic Trials. Despite the disappointment at not making the Olympic team, she capped the year 2000 by finishing fifth at Elite Canada, reinforcing her desire to continue to compete in the upcoming season.
Beginning the post-Olympic year at the Gymnix International, Plante's world championship hopes seemed to fade when she was able to compete only two apparatus, uneven bars and balance beam. While the 17 year-old was now attempting her Def again, she still seemed ill-prepared for the upcoming season, and her competition was marred by numerous falls. Later that month, Plante was given the opportunity to compete abroad once more, this time at the prestigious Cottbus International, a Grand Prix event that included many of the world's top gymnasts. There, errors plagued Plante's performances once more, with her highest finish (11th) coming on the floor exercise.
Between these late winter meets and the national championships at the end of May, however, Plante regained her motivation and emerged with improved improved conditioning and more competitive routines. With the majority of the Olympic team members retiring or moving on to NCAA competition, Plante knew 2001 was her best chance at making that elusive major world team. At the Canadian championships in New Brunswick, a rejeuvinated Plante stormed to the top of the rankings with a strong third place finish. Her outstanding performance earned Plante selection to Canada's world championship training squad by national coach Andrei Rodionenko.
After taking the summer to train and prepare for the big events in the fall, Plante returned to competition at the world championship trials and selection camp in August. There, a fit and much more confident Plante performed with enough stability throughout the weekend to earn first place overall in the trials competition. At a verification meet for the world team just prior to their departure for Europe, Plante impressed onlookers by nailing a new piked full-in on floor, as well as greater height and security on her vaults (handspring piked front), and more consistent efforts on the uneven bars and balance beam. At a pre-world championship meet with Holland, the Czech Republic, and Germany, Plante also took the top score of the day on the floor exercise after hitting all of her tumbling passes perfectly.
After finally making the team she had worked for for so long, disappointment struck Plante and her coaches once more when she sprained her ankle just days before the start of the world championships. With her competitive status unclear until the day of the team competition, and with no alternate present at the competition, a beat-up Canadian team needed every routine Plante could deliver. In the end, she was able to contribute on only one event, the uneven bars, where she hit her Def to the delight of the crowd, helping Canada edge out Brazil for 10th place.
Born on September 22nd, 1983 in Joliette, QC., Plante turned 18 in 2002, and by most Canadian standards was be considered to be in the twilight of her career. Nonetheless, Plante reaffirmed her desire to continue competing for Canada in the upcoming year in a newspaper interview in the early part of the year. Her presence in the sport would be an asset, both as a role model for the up-and-coming athletes at the Gymnix Club, but also as one of the leaders of the Canadian national team.
2002 Update: 2002 would be an up and down year for Plante. She began her season with a three-event performance (no floor exercise) at her home club’s Gymnix International. She made event finals in those three events, successfully catching her Def release on uneven bars both days. This result earned her a trip to Vancouver for the Pacific Alliance Championships, where she again made finals on uneven bars as well as the balance beam. In bars finals, after nailing her Def, giant-full to giant 1 ˝ to Gienger, she fell on a free hip on the low bar, ruining any chance for an individual medal. Later that month, she struggled with her consistency at the Canadian championships in Winnipeg and as a result missed her big goal of making the Commonwealth Games team. Seemingly unaffected by this setback, Plante showed up at October’s individual worlds team selection meet with a new level of confidence and some new skills and combinations to boot. On the uneven bars, not only did she catch her Def release both times, but also added a free-hip full to her pirouetting combination into the Gienger, raising her start value to 9.9. She also showed a gainer 2 ˝ twist off the side beam dismount. As a result, Plante made her third world championship team and headed off to Debrecen, Hungary, where she would perform on three events (uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise). Despite missing one of her pirouette moves, she qualified for the semi-finals on the uneven bars and earned a strong 14th place ranking on that apparatus.
2003 Update: As the 2003 season began, there was speculation as to Plante’s competitive future. She traveled with the Canadian team to the Pacific Challenge competition, where she posted the team’s top score on the uneven bars but struggled greatly on the other events. She did not compete at her club’s meet the following week-end and also missed the Canadian Championships in Saskatoon.
When Plante was added to the roster for the Pan American Games/World Championships selection meet, fans of Canadian gymnastics anxiously anticipated her return to competition, to see how she would stack up against the next generation of Canadian talent. In what has to be considered the greatest competition of her career so far, Plante performed beyond expectations, hitting 7 of her 8 routines during the trials (a missed double turn on beam on day one being her only glitch) to end the meet in fourth place overall. In her uneven bar routine, she added a toe-on shoot to the high bar after her overshoot handstand, making her the only Canadian gymnast the quadrennium to show a 10.0 start value on that apparatus. She also showed a strong Arabian double front opening pass on floor as well as a piked full-in middle line. This impressive showing left little doubt in many people’s minds that Plante would be off to both the Pan American Games and the World Championships.
But in a controversial decision, Plante stayed home from the Pan American Games in Santo Domingo and was not a part of the Canadian team’s second place finish there. She did continue to train with the team leading up to the Games, and traveled to Anaheim for the world championships, knowing that the final decision as to which six gymnasts would compete would not be made until the last possible moment. In the end, Plante was named to the competing squad, where a clutch performance on the uneven bars (Canada’s weakest event on paper in terms of start value) was crucial in securing the team a berth to the Athens Olympic Games. Plante competed last in the line-up on this event, nailing her Def, Gienger, and double layout dismount for a 9.2 out of 9.8 (she did not perform her free-hip full – a change which allowed her more consistency on this routine - and the decision paid off). The 9.2 score was the highest on that event for the team. Unfortunately, during warm-ups for the floor exercise, the 19 year-old landed locked legged on one of her passes and was unable to compete on that event. Still her contribution to the team’s qualifications effort was significant, and after the meet Plante reflected on her showing, saying “I did my job” and “that’s what the team needed.”