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Archive: July 2003

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JULY 23 – INTERVIEW WITH 1992 OLYMPIAN JENNIFER WOOD

When Calgary's Jennifer Wood began gymnastics, she never dreamed she'd become Alberta's first female gymnast to compete at an Olympic Games. In this Gymn.ca exclusive interview, Wood takes us through her gymnastics career, starting with her early years at Altadore gymnastics through to her NCAA achievements. Wood is now the Women’s Program Coordinator at Alberta Gymnastics, staying close to the sport she loves. Enter interview!


JULY 19 – FORMER GYMNASTS EARN SUCCESS AT TRACK & FIELD CHAMPIONSHIPS

Pole vaulting is an event in which several former gymnasts have enjoyed continued sporting success, including Russia's Svetlana Feofanova, Great Britain's Sonia Lawrence, the Czech Republic's Daniela Bartova, and more. Former Canadian gymnasts have "jumped" aboard: Competing at this weekend's 2003 Canadian Track & Field Championships are Dana Ellis (formerly with Cambridge Kips), Kelsie Hendry (formerly with Marian), and current NCAA gymnast Carly Dockendorf (formerly with Abbotsford Twisters).

Results from yesterday's women's pole vaulting competion saw Dana Ellis in second place, likely good enough for a berth to the upcoming Pan Am Games in the Dominican Republic.

1. Stephanie McCann (Abbotsford, BC) 4.20m
2. Dana Ellis (Kitchener, ON) 4.15m
3. Simona Kovacic (Etobicoke, ON) 3.85m
4. Kelsie Hendry (Saskatoon, SK) 3.85m
5. Kristin Olson (Edmonton, AB) 3.65m
6. Arielle Mitchell (Lethbridge, AB) 3.65m
7. Carly Dockendorf (Port Moody, BC) 3.65m

Grace Chiu presents photographs from yesterday's pole vaulting competition:

Dana Ellis (ON) Kelsie Hendry (SK) Carly Dockendorf (BC)


JULY 14 - MEN'S AND WOMEN'S PAN AM & WORLD TEAMS ANNOUNCED

Banville at trials

Following the two-day trials held this past weekend at Seneca College in Toronto, the selection committee has selected seven gymnasts who will train together for the upcoming world championships in Anaheim, California in August, the alternate of whom will be decided closer to competition time. The team for the world championships will be the top two finishers from this weekend's world trials, Ottawa teammates Heather Purnell and Melanie Banville. Also included in the team are Gael Mackie (Omega), Kylie Stone (Stampede City), Lydia Williams (Sports Seneca), Richelle Simpson (University of Nebraska), and Amelie Plante (Gymnix). Officially representing Canada at the Pan American Games are Heather Purnell, Melanie Banville, Gael Mackie, Kylie Stone, Lydia Williams and Richelle Simpson. Plante will serve as the non-travelling alternate

Comprising the men's team for the world championships will be Grant Golding (Calgary), David Kikuchi (Halifax), Kyle Shewfelt (Calgary), Alexander Jeltkov (Montreal), Richard Ikeda (Abbotsford), Ken Ikeda (Abbotsford), and Casey Sandy (Burlington). The Pan American team will include Rhett Stinson (Saskatoon), Adam Wong (Calgary), Jared Wells (Edmonton), Nathan Gafuik (Calgary), Eric Kafka (Burlington), and Brandon O'Neill (Edmonton).

After the women's team was announced, several of the athletes reflected on the meet and their team. For Stone, the trials were a difficult one, with four missed routines over two days. The 16 year-old said that while the competition did not go as planned, she did take some valuable lessons from the experience, "I learned that I need to keep my mind focused on every skill." Stone added that she hopes to qualify to beam and floor exercise finals at the Pan American Games.

Mackie at trials.

For Mackie, her selection to the team was the result of a year of strong performances, including the all-around title at the national championships in May. Born December 26, 1988, Mackie will likely be the youngest athlete on any country's roster at the world championships, yet she carried herself like a veteran throughout the weekend's competition. Mackie stated that her aim at Pan Am's is to "stick my routines and maybe make beam or bars and maybe floor finals," as well as gain some valuable competitive experience.

Williams at trials

As the third-place finisher at the trials, Williams' place on the team was all but assured. The 16 year-old, who moved to Canada from South Africa when she was nine years old, cited a slightly different focus for Pan Am's. "I want Canada to stand out," she told Gymn.ca, "I don't think we should focus on beating any particular team."

In one of the team's most intriguing success stories, Simpson, the 20 year-old NCAA all-around champion, was named to her first world championship team after a near miss in 1999. "I'm just really happy that I'm able to contribute to the team. This is something that I've wanted for my entire life. I just want to do my best for Canada, my team, and my school." Simpson explained that the University of Nebraska, which she is attending on a full scholarship, paid for her trip to the Canadian championships in May. "My coaches and teammates have done so much for me. They've put in so much time and energy and effort to help me."

The selection of the women's teams was not without controversy. In a decision that took the selection committee until almost 2 am (EST) this morning to resolve, Plante, the fourth-place finisher at this weekend's team trials, was left off the team in favour of Mackie, Simpson, and Stone, who finished fifth through seventh, respectively. After the team was announced, Gymnastics Canada Gymnastique president Jean-Paul Caron explained the decision. "We considered many things in selecting the team, as were outlined in the selection procedures," Caron said, "Things like team and individual results, past history, consistency, scores, and start values were all taken into account."

Plante at trials.

Caron stressed that while Plante was not named to the Pan American Games team, she was very much a part of the seven-athlete squad that will travel to the world championships in August. "As far as we're concerned [Plante] is on the team [to Anaheim]. We were quite impressed with her performance this weekend," particularly considering Plante's absence from nationals earlier this year due to injury. Caron also was quick to point out that the team's focus would change after Pan American Games, as the objectives for the two competitions were different. While the focus is more on team and individual medals at the Games, the primary goal at the world championships will be a top-12 finish.

While Plante was not in attendance for the announcement, her Gymnix coach Josee Cyr was. Cyr was diplomatic in her response to the decision, and pointed out that there were several possible arrangements that could have been made. Above all, Cyr was supportive of her athlete. "We're really proud of her. She did a lot of improvements, and it takes a lot of courage to do what she did. She was really proud of her accomplishment." As for her athlete's status prior to worlds, Cyr noted that she would be seeking clear guidelines for what Plante could do to improve her chances of competing in Anaheim. "I just want to make sure that everything is clear so that she can make the steps so that she can be there. It's important for her to know that.

"But the good thing is that she knows that she did a good job, and that's important for Amelie."


JULY 13 - PURNELL, BANVILLE NAMED TO WORLD TEAM

Banville on beam, day 2
2003 Pan Am/World Team
trials. Photo by Grace Chiu

It was a banner day for the Ottawa Gymnastics Club at the women's world championship team trials today when star athletes Heather Purnell and Melanie Banville finished one-two in the all-around. Both athletes hit all four of their routines to take the top two positions over two days of competition, earning themselves automatic berths to the world championship team in the process. Banville's 9.350 on her last event, the floor exercise, helped her to edge out Sports Seneca's Lydia Williams, who finished third after a four-for-four effort.

Gymnix's Amelie Plante also had a successful day of competition, hitting all events save for some improvisations on uneven bars for fourth overall. Omega's Gael Mackie ended the day where she started, finishing fifth and taking the highest beam total of the meet. Nebraska's Richelle Simpson struggled on three events (fall on a 1 1/2 twisting Yurchenko, various small errors on uneven bars, and a near-fall on floor exercise) for sixth. In the most surprising turn of events of the day, the usually reliable Kylie Stone had a disasterous competition, counting five falls (three on balance beam and one each on uneven bars and floor exercise) to drop from second to seventh overall.

The women's world championship and Pan American teams will be announced tomorrow at approximately noon EST. Watch for the announcement of the women's team, as well as videos, photos, and reports from the trials here at Gymn.ca in the days to come.

Purnell on FX, day 2
2003 Pan Am/World Team
trials. Photo by Grace Chiu

Final Results
1. Heather Purnell 73.125 (36.575 day one, 36.550 day two)
2. Melanie Banville 72.950 (36.025, 36.925)
3. Lydia Williams 72.875 (35.950, 36.925)
4. Amelie Plante 72.300 (36.125, 36.175)
5. Gael Mackie 71.750 (35.800, 35.950)
6. Richelle Simpson 70.325 (35.400, 34.925)
7. Kylie Stone 69.900 (36.400, 33.500)
8. Laura-Ann Chong 68.325 (34.050, 34.275)
9. Natasha Gowda 66.800 (33.275, 33.525)
10. Tracey Rai 66.700 (33.600, 33.100)
11. Danielle Hicks 66.675 (32.450, 34.225)
12. Amanda Gering 55.200 (no floor day 2) (31.600, 23.600)
13. Jennifer Simbhudas 50.650 (no bars) (24.525, 26.125)
14. Vanessa Meloche 37.225 (four bar routines only) (18.650, 18.575)


JULY 12 - PURNELL LEADS AFTER DAY ONE OF TRIALS

Ottawa's Heather Purnell staged a successful comeback to national competition by finishing first after day one of the women's world championship team trials, held today at Toronto's Sports Seneca College. Purnell, 17, started her day with a stuck 1 1/2 twisting Yurchenko (9.350) en route to a 36.575 total.

Finishing second after day one was Stampede City's Kylie Stone with 36.400. Stone had a strong day of competition, with her only error coming on the balance beam (fall on her pike front mount). At the half-way stage of the competition, Purnell and Stone are in position to take the two automatic berths for the world championship team, which will be announced on Monday.

Purnell performs her
1 1/2 twisting wolf jump
at the 2003 Pan Am/
World Team Trials
Photo by Grace Chiu

A full report of the women's competition is available here. Watch for videos and photos from the women's competition, coming soon on Gymn.ca. Complete results after today's competition are as follows:

1. Heather Purnell (36.575)
2. Kylie Stone (36.400)
3. Amelie Plante (36.125)
4. Melanie Banville (36.025)
5. Lydia Williams (35.950)
6. Gael Mackie (35.800)
7. Richelle Simpson (35.400)
8. Laura-Ann Chong (34.050)
9. Tracey Rai (33.600)
10. Natasha Gowda (33.275)
11. Danielle Hicks (32.450)
12. Amanda Gering (31.600)
13. Jennifer Simbhudas (24.525, no uneven bars)
14. Vanessa Meloche (18.525, two bar routines only)

Full results can be found at Seneca's Web site (PDF file).


JULY 11 - WOMEN'S TRAINING NOTES AND QUOTES

Today marked the final day of training for the women competing in this weekend's world championship team trials, which will be held at Seneca College in Toronto tomorrow and Sunday. Athletes trained for several hours today in front of a small group of supporters and media. The following is a selection of observations and commentary on today's session:

  • National runner-up Melanie Banville was having a good day of training until her third event, the uneven bars. There, Banville crashed a double back dismount on top of the high bar, falling heavily to the mat. After being attended to for several minutes by coaches and trainers, Banville was able to walk away from the accident under her own power. After receiving further treatment, the 16 year-old remounted the uneven bars and successfully completed her double layout dismount.

  • Laura-Ann Chong, who recently moved from Omega to the Abbotsford Twisters, showed up well on balance beam (ff layout layout, switch leap/tour jete 1/2, standing punch front, ff ff to clean double back dismount). Chong has finally had the opportunity to train injury-free since November, and is enjoying working with former coach David Kenwright once again. Kenwright previously coached Chong to the national championships as a novice at Omega before moving to the Twisters club with former star pupil Kate Richardson. Chong plans to demonstrate routines with start values of 9.4 on vault (piked front), 9.5 on bars, 9.9 on beam, and 9.6 on floor. While Chong remains hopeful about the possibility of making the world team, she noted that her primarly aim of the competition is to "show that I'm better than I was at nationals," where she placed 11th all-around.

  • Also putting in a strong showing in training was Champions' Amanda Gering. The 16 year-old trained a 9.9 start value beam routine, and successfully landed a number of arabian double fronts on floor. Gering plans to show a 9.4 start value on vault (Yurchenko full), 9.4 on uneven bars, and a 9.6 on floor exercise.

  • One of the quiet contenders at the trials, Flicka's Natasha Gowda showed she belonged in such elite company by demonstrating stylish, attractive gymnastics throughout the day. On floor, Gowda showed several dance-throughs with dramatic choreography and some of the best hand positions in the competition, while on bars she was stable with a giant-full to Tkatchev and giant 1 1/2 (Kim) to Jaeger. Once the trials are completed, Gowda will join fellow competitor Richelle Simpson at the University of Nebraska, where she has been awarded a full scholarship.

  • Another athlete back in competition after a string of injuries was 2002 national champion Danielle Hicks. Hicks, who recently left Oshawa's Gemini club for her former club, the Academy of Sport and Fitness, trained elements on all four events today. Hicks is also in discussion with several NCAA teams, including the University of Arizona, where former Canadian national team members Abby Pearson and Aubrey Taylor are already team members. Hicks, who will begin Grade 12 this fall, hopes to have signed with an NCAA team by this November.

  • Reigning Canadian champion Gael Mackie trained one of the heaviest loads of the day, and was one of the last athletes to leave the floor at the end of the session. Mackie attempted several new 1 1/2 twisting Yurchenko vaults, but fell on each attempt. Her uneven bars and balance beam routines were similar to those she competed earlier in the year, though she worked steadily on her press to handstand, lower to reverse planche beam mount.

  • Seneca teammate Vanessa Meloche, absent from competition for a full year since her triple-bronze medal effort at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, trained the uneven bars, and also did some light work on vault. For the first time since ankle surgery in November, Meloche showed full difficulty on bars (piked Jaeger to a very tight bail-1/2 to handstand to immediate toe-shoot to high bar; Markelov), including her double front dismount, landed on a regular landing surface.

  • Two-time world team member Amelie Plante showed up in style. The 18 year-old veteran looked trim, tanned, and very well prepared for the meet, particularly on vault (high piked front-1/2) and floor exercise (piked full-in; arabian double front), which was performed to new music. Plante struggled most on the balance beam, coming off repeatedly on a double turn attempt (gainer double twist dismount).

  • Banville's Ottawa teammate Heather Purnell, in her first competition since injuring her wrist in March, showed consistent routines throughout the training session, including a rare 1 1/2-twisting wolf jump on the balance beam, a move she first began performing last year.

  • Tracey Rai, a late addition to the trials roster after the withdrawal of Ashley Peckett and Breanne King, impressed most on vault, where she showed a clean a 1 1/2-twisting Yurchenko.

  • Former world championship team member Jennifer Simbhudas trained well throughout the day, showing a well-rotated Luconi on vault and solid work on the balance beam.

  • NCAA champion Richelle Simpson showed high quality routines on three events, and also trained a clean, but lower start value (9.5) uneven bar routine. Simpson vaulted a Yurchenko with 1 1/2 twists with relative ease, and showcased a high double layout on floor exercise. Simpson also presented a beam routine with a 9.8 start value (ff layout layout, punch front to 1-arm ff, RO double tuck dismount).

  • National bronze medallist Kylie Stone looked calm and composed during training, showing the same routines she has performed throughout the year. Stone noted that it is her hope to earn an automatic berth to the world team by finishing in the top two over the two days of competition this weekend. While Stone trained a 1 1/2 twisting Yurchenko, the Stampede City athlete said she will perform her more reliable Khorkina (RO-1/2 on, piked Cuervo off) vault in competition.

  • Hometown favourite Lydia Williams re-arranged her uneven bar routine in an attempt to increase her consistency on the event. Her current routine, which no longer includes the Comaneci and Zuchold releases that Williams showcased earlier in the year, starts from a 9.5. After the session, Williams noted that she and her coaches will possibly re-insert the elements into her routine if she makes the world championship or Pan American Games squad. Williams also trained a new acro series on balance beam (1-arm ff to back somi) in place of the often poorly-rewarded back somi/back somi combination she used earlier this year. When asked of her goals in the competition, Williams stated that she "wants to show that she is among the best in Canada."
  • Competition begins tomorrow at 2:00 pm (EST) with the first round of all-around competition. Sunday will mark the conclusion of the competition, and the final team will be announced at a luncheon on Monday.


    JULY 8 – SENECA PREPARES TO HOST WOMEN’S TEAM TRIALS


    Meloche and Williams
    The host Sport Seneca club is enthusiastically gearing up for this weekend’s women’s selection meet that will determine the teams for the upcoming Pan American Games and World Championships. Lydia Williams and Vanessa Meloche of the host club have been “working very hard and are really looking forward to trials,” coach Lawson Hamer told gymn.ca today. Last month, coaches Hamer and Carol-Angela Orchard had an opportunity to train at the Ottawa Gymnastics Center (see news from July 2), an experience that was “quite a treat” according to Hamer. “The week was very positive and they are incredibly motivated to represent Canada at The Pan Am Games and World Championships.” Other competing athletes will be arriving at Seneca tomorrow and Thursday for pre-meet training, which Hamer says “you can already feel the excitement in the air well before the competition even begins.”

    Fourteen women will compete at the trials this week-end. A change to the original roster indicates that Breanne King of Flicka and Ashley Peckett of Gymnastics Mississauga will not be seeking berths on this year’s World Championship team. Both will focus on preparations for their NCAA careers this fall, with King attending the University of Florida and Peckett UCLA. Peckett, a two time world team member in 2001 and 2002, told gymn.ca that a number of factors went into her self-described "hard" decision, including a need to rest her knee and a desire to stay close to home in her last summer before college. "I was training for this event more because I felt it was what I should do, and not what I really wanted to do," admitted Peckett. Although Gymnastics Mississauga is actually on summer break right now, the renewed Peckett is "training a bit anyways, because I can't stay away!"

    The final roster for the trials now features Williams, Meloche, current Canadian all-around champion Gael Mackie of Omega, nationals runner-up Melanie Banville of Ottawa Gymnastics Center, 2002 Canadian champion Danielle Hicks of ASF, Commonwealth team member Heather Purnell of Ottawa, nationals AA bronze medallist and Commonwealth team member Kylie Stone of Stampede City, 2001 and 2002 world team member Amélie Plante of Gymnix, 2001 world team member Jennifer Simbhudas of the Winstonettes, Flicka’s Natasha Gowda, Amanda Gering of Champions Gymnastics, Twisters’ Laura-Ann Chong, NCAA all-around champion Richelle Simpson, and Flicka’s Tracey Rai (not on the original roster, but recently added following the withdrawals of Peckett and King).

    Competition takes place this Saturday and Sunday. Warm-ups begin at 12:30, with the meet scheduled to run from 2:00 – 4:30 each day. Tickets can be purchased at the door, or ordered in advance by calling (416) 491-5050, extension 2316. An adult weekend pass costs $18, and $8 for seniors and children. A day pass costs $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and children. According to Hamer, “many people have been calling about tickets so we are looking forward to a great crowd.”

    Gymn.ca will be on hand to cover the event. Look for reports and video clips from the competition on Saturday evening.

    The Canadian men’s teams will also be finalized this weekend at a training camp in Calgary, Alberta. The men in contention for the world championships are Richard Ikeda, Grant Golding, David Kikuchi, Rhett Stinson, Alexander Jeltkov, Kyle Shewfelt, Casey Sandy and Ken Ikeda Five gymnasts have already been named to the Pan American Games team (unlike the women, two different teams will compete at Pan Ams and worlds). The are: Brandon O’Neil, Adam Wong, Nathan Gafuik, Jared Walls, and Eric Kafka. Following this weekend’s selection activities, the final six gymnasts and one alternate for worlds will be decided, as well as the final competing member for the Pan Am Games. The men's control test takes place at 5:00 on Saturday, July 12th at the University of Calgary Gymnastics Center. Spectators are welcome.

    JULY 7 – CANADIAN T&T WORLD TEAM NAMED

    The Canadian team for this year’s World Trampoline and Tumbling Championships was finalized this week-end following the third team trials held in Longueil, Quebec. In the men’s individual trampoline, Bryan Milonja took first place, affirming his position on the team. Joining him on the individual trampoline team will be Olympic bronze medallist and Canadian champion Mathieu Turgeon, seven time national champion Michel Greene and up and comer Jason Burnett. Turgeon and Greene will also team up in the men’s synchro event, as will Charles Thibault and Adam Menzies. Canada will also field a strong team in the men’s double mini competition, led by Canadian champion Milonja, third trials winner Menzies, former Canadian and world champion Chris Mitruk, and Denis Vachon - who will also lead the men’s tumbling team. Vachon, the Canadian tumbling champion, took first place at these trials and will be joined at the world championships by Coyle Roycroft, David Poirier and David Cowen.

    In the women’s individual trampoline competition, Heather McManus took first place, while Olympic bronze medallist Karen Cockburn struggled in preliminaries. Both will head to the world championships in the fall and will be joined by Brenna Casey and Savija McManus. Cockburn and Heather McManus will also pair up in the women’s synchro competition, where they are considered strong medal contenders. Casey and Savija McManus will also compete in the synchro event. In double mini tramp, Canadian champion Sarah Charles will lead the team to worlds, where Sarah Caruso, Casey, and Julie Warnock will also compete. Canadian champion Emily Smith will compete in the women’s tumbling event along with Neisha Davis.

    The world championships take place in Hannover, Germany, October 17-19.


    JULY 3 - T&T TEAMS TO BE NAMED THIS WEEKEND

    The final world championships team trials for trampoline and tumbling will be held July 4th-5th at the "Complexe Sportif de Longueil" in Longueil, Que. The first trials were held in March at the Canada Cup in Ontario and second in May at the Canadian national championships in Saskatoon. This third trial is important for most athletes to secure their spots on both the national team and the world team. The national team will be composed of the top eight ranked athletes in each discipline, while the world team will be made up of the top four ranked athletes plus an alternate in each discipline.

    While most athletes are already secured a position on the world team based on results from the two other trials, this event will be useful for the athletes already qualified to debut new skills and routines leading up to world championships in Hanover, Germany next October. Canada will need strong performances at these Worlds in order to secure spots to compete at the Olympic games. However, a number of athletes will be battling it out for the last wide open team spots, which will create quite an interesting and exciting competition for the fans!

    On men's trampoline, Mathieu Turgeon, Bryan Milonja and Michel Greene are well ahead of the pack and are basically guaranteed positions on the world team. The fourth and final spot will be determined by the national team coach, Dave Ross, and other committee members. Adam Menzies, Charles Thibault, Jason Burnett and Marty Myers will try to prove that they are good enough to be added to the already strong trio Turgeon, Milonja and Greene. Greene has been forced to cut down on training time because of a nagging foot injury, but is hopeful he will be able to compete, while Milonja and Turgeon will be going for full difficulty routines.

    In women's trampoline, Karen Cockburn, Heather McManus, Brenna Casey and Savija McManus have been working hard to do their best for Canada in recent international competition. Casey will have to miss out on these trials because of a broken arm suffered in training just last week. Cockburn, who recently won the bronze medal at the Paris world cup last month, has her sights on maybe trying a new routine if all goes well.

    On double-mini trampoline, the race for world team spots is unpredictable. On the men's side, Bryan Milonja, Adam Menzies and Chris Mitruk will lead the pack, with strong competition from Denis Vachon, Matthew Eldridge, Kevin Perkins and Dave Parke. On the women's side, Sarah Charles, Brenna Casey and Sarah Caruso are ahead of the game in the rankings so far. Competition for the last spot will be fierce between Julie Warnock, Cheryl Johnson and Lisa McBoyle.

    In power tumbling, on the men's side, leaders Denis Vachon, David Poirier, Cole Roycroft and David Cowen will have good competition from Cletus Okpoh and Doug Creighton. For the women, Emily Smith and Neisha Davis are the leaders. Smith competed impressively at her first big international competition last month, the Paris world cup, placing 10th.

    Competition starts at 13:45 on Friday and 14:00 on Saturday. The gymnasium can be found on Cure-Poirier Ouest boulevard. Following the competitions, invited athletes will stay behind for a national team training camp which will be held at the same gym on Sunday and Monday following the competition to help determine team goals for world championships.


    JULY 2 - PURNELL, BANVILLE READY FOR TRIALS

    Purnell (left) and Banville in 2002

    Ottawa Gymnastics' Heather Purnell and Melanie Banville, national runners-up in 2002 and 2003, respectively, are both in good health and ready to perform at the upcoming world championship team trials, head coach Tobie Gorman told Gymn.ca this week.

    According to Gorman, Purnell has fully healed from the nagging wrist injury that hampered her training throughout the spring. The injury had previously forced the Metcalf, Ontario, native to withdraw from the 2003 Canadian championships. After returning from the championships, which she attended as a spectator, Purnell began training all four events again, and has now worked her way up to full difficulty on all apparatus. Her 1 1/2 twisting Yurchenko is now competition-ready, and her beam and floor routines have each been upgraded by 0.2 in start value.

    Coach Gorman has been pleased with Purnell's progress. "Heather has done an amazing job to get ready for trials. Despite being off her hands for seven weeks, three weeks longer than anticipated, she maintained a tough attitude and she returned to training in really good shape, stronger, cleaner and more dynamic."

    For 16 year-old Banville, the past few weeks have been primarily focused on improving the quality of her routines heading into the trials. "Melanie continues to be on fire each and every day and consistently tried to improve upon her performances from nationals. Melanie has also really improved her execution and amplitude since nationals."

    Gorman has been working with both athletes to improve each girl's potential score by 0.2 on each event, either in start value or execution. "Both Heather and Mel realized the importance of this goal and have really focused on improving this area - and it is working well," Gorman noted. "The girls have a lot of support from their parents, their teammates and the club."

    Over the past few weeks, the Ottawa athletes have had the opportunity to train with other top Canadian gymnasts. First, Sports Seneca coaches Carol Angela Orchard and Lawson Hamer, and athletes Lydia Williams and Vanessa Meloche visited the Ottawa club for one week, and most recently Twisters coach David Kenwright and athlete Laura-Ann Chong have arrived for a two-week stay leading up to the trials.



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