Surrey’s Shallon Olsen is having a golden time in Australia.
Olsen, 17, won gold Friday (April 6) as a member of Team Canada in the women’s artistic gymnastics team final.
It was Canada’s first women’s team gymnastics gold at the Games since 1990.
Over the weekend, Olsen won gold in vault, and then bronze in the women’s floor competition.
Olsen said the Commonwealth Games have been the pinnacle of her gymnastics career, to date.
“I think so,” she said, when asked by the Now-Leader, “because the team competition was really amazing, and then the vault final just the other day was also fantastic, just really had me on the edge of my seat, waiting and watching the other girls compete. And then today, floor, was just the cherry on top, and I can’t be any prouder for my teammates and representing Canada.”
On Sunday, the Now-Leader sent Olsen some questions via email, through Gymnastics Canada media representative Julie Forget.
Asked what the experience has been like in Australia as a member of team Canada, Olsen replied: “As a team, we’re extremely supportive of each other, just really there for each other, and if we make a mistake, we’re all there for each other, for support.”
The Vancouver-born Olsen, who trains at Omega Sports Centre in Coquitlam, counts vault and floor as her favourite events.
She said consistency and “a lot of repetition in the gym” is how she has managed to excel in gymnastics.
“It’s not just the ability to do gymnastics,” she added, “it’s a lot of the mental game too, so if you feel like you’re not ready to do it physically, then you have to prepare mentally in your head too, so that’s really important for me.”
Olsen started in gymnastics at age three.
“By that age, (she) was the fastest bike rider in the family and needed the right environment to channel her energy,” according to a bio posted on the Gymnastics Canada website.
Her parents are Tony Olsen and Jayne Chow-Olsen, and “Shally” has an older brother named Chas.
At age 16, Olsen was the youngest Canadian Olympian at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio. In 2017, she won two silver medals – in floor and vault events – at the first-ever World Cup in Sofia, Bulgaria, and also won gold in vault at the 2017 Jesolo Cup.
Today, she’s a Grade 12 student at Centennial Secondary in Coquitlam. Upon graduation from high school, she plans to attend the University of Alabama.
At Omega, Olsen is coached by Vladimir Lashin and Svetlana Lashina.
Gym owner Kat Lashina said Olsen has trained at the facility for more than a decade.
“She’s been a top, high-level athlete for a long time,” Kat said. “She’s very dedicated, very hard working, and on the other side she’s very friendly. We’re very proud of her here.”