Two-time Olympic trampoline champion Rosie MacLennan aims for three-peat

·4 min read

The seed for Rosie MacLennan's current trampoline routine was planted shortly after she won Olympic gold at the 2012 London Games.

She told longtime coach Dave Ross that she thought a routine with three front-triple somersaults might be possible in a competitive setting. MacLennan has tried variations of it in the past, but no one has nailed it in a women's competition.

That could change at the Tokyo Games.

"I've been working on it for a pretty long time," she said. "It's been pretty tough to be able to get the routine consistently, but it's been a lot of fun. I think that's one of the great things about this sport is no matter where you're at in your career, there's always something new to aspire to whether it's a new skill or a new routine.

"I think that's what really keeps me motivated and that's what instils my passion for the sport. I think it also helps motivate my coach, keeps us hungry and trying for more."

MacLennan overcame injuries in the lead-up to the Rio Games in 2016 before successfully defending her title. She battled concussion symptoms beforehand and had to dial back her final routine.

While it was a more conservative effort, her mix of twists, flips and jumps was enough to outscore her opponents and make history.

MacLennan became the first Canadian athlete to successfully defend a title at the Summer Olympics. She's also the first Canadian woman to win two gold medals in an individual event at the Summer Games.

Ross would love to see her do it again, but notes that expectations for a three-peat should be kept in check.

"I think it's very unlikely just like the one repeat was very unlikely," he said. "First of all, when she repeated in Rio, (it was) the first defended (trampoline) title in a Summer Olympics ever. So that gives you an idea of how unlikely it is ... there's going to be a lot of pressure on her to do well.

"While she's still one of the best athletes in the world, she's not the only one who has a chance of winning."

MacLennan may choose to sub out one or two of the skills in the 10-skill routine. Since time of flight is a factor in scoring, a third front-triple attempt may lead to a loss of height and a lower score.

"It may not help you doing a hard routine unless it's clean and it's high," Ross said. "So right now her easier routine would probably score a little bit more. We'd hate to go into the Olympics with the same strategy as everyone else, trying to score the most with a medium-level difficulty routine.

"But it looks like that might be the way to score the most."

The pandemic resulted in a dearth of trampoline events. National team director Karen Cockburn said the break allowed MacLennan to experiment with different skill orders and incorporate elements with more difficulty.

"There's no woman that we've seen do these type of elements," said Cockburn, a three-time Olympic medallist. "So I think that keeps her ahead of her curve, that she's always pushing herself on the difficulty side and then just having a very high standard of performance.

"And just her pure love of the sport, that keeps her going."

Now 32, MacLennan is an experienced veteran on the trampoline scene. The Toronto resident made her first world championship appearance in 2005, she won a world title in 2013 and took bronze in 2019.

Ross said determination sets her apart. Cockburn pointed to her consistency and precision.

"She is empowered to be good or not be good on her own terms and that has enabled her to stay motivated because it's her game," Ross said. "She's doing it because she wants to."

MacLennan said she still loves the sport, enjoys the training and finds joy in the process.

"It's constantly challenging yourself and seeing what you're capable of," she said. "You kind of plant these seeds and ideas in your head and it's really able to expand what you believe to be within the realm of possibility.

"I think that keeps you pushing and keeps you, as an athlete, setting your sights higher and higher."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 28, 2021.

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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

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