Conestogo gymnast has a shot at Olympic berth
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Conestogo gymnast has a shot at Olympic berth

Conestogo gymnast Sydney Townsend helped the Canadian women’s gymnastic team earn a sixth-place finish at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Scotland last week.

This qualifies Canada to send a women’s gymnastics team to the 2016 Olympics in Rio. But the 15-year-old will still have to compete for a spot on that squad.

Sydney’s dad, Todd Townsend explains how Sydney, who’s been part of Team Canada for a number of years, was chosen to attend the world championships.

“They pulled together six weeks ago the girls on the national team, they take them to Montreal for a week and they have a selection camp in terms of picking that team for the world championships. They picked their seven kids they’re going to take and they go from there,” he said.

Leading up to the trip to Scotland they went to a training camp a week before in Sarnia. All the girls from across the country practiced together for a week, and then they hopped on a plane to Glasgow, Scotland for two weeks.

“She was over the moon excited. There are four events. They only asked her to do in the qualification round, the floor and the vault, which are two of her stronger events. They really tried to make the most for Team Canada. The goal was to qualify a team for the Olympics.”

Local gymnast Sydney Townsend competed at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Scotland last week, helping the Canadian women’s team earn a spot at the 2016 Olympics. [submitted]
Local gymnast Sydney Townsend competed at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Scotland last week, helping the Canadian women’s team earn a spot at the 2016 Olympics. [submitted]
He said she was a bit disappointed with her floor score because it wasn’t the best she could do, but she excelled in her vault event.

In that competition they dressed six of the seven gymnasts for the event and then five kids did each apparatus and four scores counted towards the overall score, he explained. They finished seventh in the qualification round, and the top eight teams give their countries berth to the Olympics. The same top eight teams then came back to do the team finals. Three gymnasts per country per apparatus competed.

Team Canada asked her to do the vault in the team final and she upped her score just slightly, as one of the three Canadian gymnasts who competed in the vault for the team final score.

“The national team over the next eight months, they’ll come back, they’ll try to upgrade their skills on each of the apparatuses. The national team will come together again probably 12 weeks before the Olympics, and they’ll pick the team that goes to the Olympics. So she’s going to ramp up now over the next eight months her skills to try to get onto that Olympic team,” he said.

And just because she was part of the team that qualified Canada for a spot at the Olympics it doesn’t mean she’s automatically going. It will depend on who’s healthy and who’s at the top of their game when they do trials a few months before the Olympics to choose the team. Sydney trains at Revolution Gymnastics in Waterloo.

And what would it mean for her to make it to the Olympics?

“That’s what she’s been gunning for her whole life. She trains upwards of 30 hours a week. It’s been a goal ever since she really started into this competitively. It’s day by day but the end goal has always been be the best she can possibly be,” Townsend said.

The United States placed first in the championships, followed by China in second, and Great Britain in third. This was the highest the Canadian team had placed since 1989.

Sydney is also looking forward to 2017 when she’ll head to the University of Michigan on a scholarship, but it’s hard to compare to competing on the Olympic stage.

“The ultimate goal for a gymnast is to get in the Olympics and now she’s got herself at least in the conversation to try to make that team,” Townsend said.

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