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Forming part of the gymnastics programme, trampoline made its Olympic debut at Sydney 2000, with competitions for both men and women. Taking the bronze in that inaugural women’s event was Canada’s Karen Cockburn, who followed up with silvers at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.
Though Cockburn just missed out on a fourth medal at London 2012, her compatriot Rosannagh “Rosie” MacLennan flew the flag for Canadian trampolining in the best possible style. Fourth in the qualification round, she turned in a hugely impressive performance in the final.
Flawlessly executing a routine with the highest degree of difficulty, she eclipsed Chinese duo Huang Shanshan and He Wenna to collect what was Canada sole gold medal of London 2012.
MacLennan has remained at the pinnacle of her sport since then, topping the world rankings in 2013. She also won the world title in Sofia (BUL) that year, though she relinquished her crown 12 months later, finishing runner-up to China’s Liu Lingling in Daytona Beach (USA).
Surveying the athletes to watch out for in Rio, the defending Olympic champion expects a big challenge to come from the Chinese, British and Russians. “The Chinese have always had a very strong team. You see athletes from Great Britain really pushing each other to get better. I think also there are some athletes from Russia that are really pushing and making some strong improvements, and Belarus as well.”
After sweeping the individual, synchronised and team titles at the 2015 Trampoline World Championships in Odense (DEN), 27-year-old Chinese gymnast Li Dan is sure to feature among the favourites for gold in Rio.
Taking third place in that individual competition, behind Li and her compatriot Liu, was Belarus’ Tatsiana Piatrenia, who finished fifth at London 2012 and remains a force to be reckoned with at the age of 35.
Great Britain’s Katherine Driscoll is another contender for honours in Rio. A world synchro champion in 2013 with Amanda Parker, Driscoll won individual silver at last year’s European Championships. Meanwhile, Yana Pavlova, ranked second in the world behind Li in 2015, will be spearheading Russia’s push for podium places.
Discussing her intensive preparations for her upcoming title defence, MacLennan said: “The day after we got home from London I sat down with my coach and we thought where the sport would be in four years and where we would like to be in four years, and just constantly pushing for that and striving for that, and so playing with different routines until a few months before and then honing in on one routine and making it as good as possible.”
Looking ahead to Rio, she added: “I think the environment will be very different culturally. Brazil is obviously very different from London, but I think I’ll try and have a very similar approach in the height, difficulty and form for my routine, because that’s what I can control. I can’t really control what other people are going to do.
“I know that I’m doing this sport because I love it and I want to push myself, and so I’ll just try and stay focused on that.”