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Canada’s Rosannagh MacLennan made Olympic trampoline history at Rio 2016, when she produced a sparkling performance to become the first athlete in her sport to win back-to-back golds, having won her country’s only gold medal at London 2012.
The youngest of four children, Rosannagh “Rosie” MacLennan took up trampolining at the age of seven. She took part in her first international competition four years later and won the Canadian title in 2005, aged 16.
She has sport in her blood. Her grandfather Lorne Aldon Patterson was a superb gymnast who gained selection for the Canada team for the Olympic Games Tokyo 1940 only for them to be cancelled following the outbreak of the Second World War.
An accomplished all-round athlete, he passed on his passion for sport to his granddaughter and gave her a piece of advice she would never forget: “The most important moments in your life are not just that final moment but the cumulative moments leading up to it – on your way, do not forget to stop, enjoy and appreciate the journey.”
A year later MacLennan teamed up with Karen Cockburn (a bronze medallist at Sydney 2000 and silver medallist at Athens 2004) in synchronised trampoline, with the pair going on to enjoy great success on the international circuit, winning eight consecutive World Cup events and the world title on home soil in Quebec in 2007.
MacLennan subsequently earned a place on the Canada team for Beijing 2008, where she placed third in the qualification round of the individual competition and seventh in the final, with team-mate Cockburn collecting silver behind China’s He Wenna.
In 2010, MacLennan broke off from her training to work as a volunteer at the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, dispatching a number of duties at Canada House. “It was perfect,” she recalled. “It was an amazing experience.”
Continuing to progress in her sport, MacLennan added to her collection of world championship individual and synchronised medals but failed, in the lead-up to London 2012, to add another gold to the one she won with Cockburn in 2007.
Victory at the pre-Olympic test event at London’s North Greenwich Arena in January 2012 was a sign that her luck might be about to change. Stepping out at the same venue eight months later, she came fourth in the qualifying round before turning in a magnificent programme in the final, perfectly executing a routine with the highest degree of difficulty to beat He and fellow Chinese Huang Shanshan to the gold. In doing so, the Canadian won her country’s first ever Olympic trampoline gold and its only gold of London 2012.
Reflecting on her career after the 2012 Games, 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.”
She remained at the pinnacle of her sport in the years that followed, topping the world rankings in 2013, a year in which she also won the world title in Sofia (BUL), though she relinquished her crown 12 months later, finishing runner-up to China’s Liu Lingling in Daytona Beach (USA). The Canadian then won gold at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.
MacLennan had a Games to remember at Rio 2016, where she carried her country’s flag at the Opening Ceremony at the Maracanã before retaining her title, winning her country’s second gold of the Games in the process.
“It's so surreal,” she said after becoming the first Canadian to retain an individual title at the Olympic Games and the first athlete to retain an Olympic individual trampoline title. “I'm so excited and really proud. I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to come out here to compete at the Olympics again. I can't even describe it.”
Third in the qualifying round behind Chinese favourite Li Dan in the qualifying round, MacLennan secured her place at the top of the podium thanks to a gravity-defying display in the final, which brought her 56.465 points. Li followed her on to the apparatus but could score no more than 55.885 points, which left her third behind Great Britain’s Bryony Page.
Her hunger for further success undiminished, the two-time Olympic champion is ready to face the challenges that lie ahead: “There are routines and elements that I haven’t done yet and which I’d really like to try out in competition. I still love my sport and I still love training. I don’t know how long I’ll carry on for, but all being well I’ll keep going for the next few seasons.”