Surrey-raised Shallon Olsen competes in the 2018 FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Doha, Qatar. (Photo: GymCan/John Cheng)

GYMNASTICS

Surrey gymnast Shallon Olsen looks to book a return trip to Olympic Games

With an eye on 2020 Tokyo, she’ll fly to Germany for next month’s world championships

Surrey’s Shallon Olsen is among five women set to represent Canada at the 2019 FIG World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Germany next month.

The competition represents another step in Olsen’s journey to return to the Olympic Games.

As a 16-year-old, she was the youngest Canadian Olympian at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio, where she placed eighth in vault.

Now 19, the Fraser Heights-raised Olsen is gunning to compete at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

The championships in Germany, in Stuttgart starting on Oct. 4, is the last opportunity for countries to qualify a four-person team for the Games in Japan, so the competition promises to be tough.

Gymnastics Canada named the athletes for its two teams on Sept. 4, with Olsen among the women.

Olsen, a second-year student-athlete at the University Alabama, spent part of her summer at the Pan-American Games in Lima, Peru, where she earned a bronze medal in vault.

She wanted a better result at the Pan-Ams, and looks to rebound in Germany.

“I have pretty high expectations for myself, and in the training gym (in Lima) I did some really good vaults,” Olsen said on the phone from Alabama. “It’s gymnastics, I’m not always going to be perfect, and we all make mistakes. I know that. And my first vault was good, but what bothered me was I did a really good one in the training gym before that.”

It was winter in Peru at the Pan-Am Games, which didn’t exactly please the summer-loving Olsen.

• RELATED STORY: Golden moments for Surrey gymnast Shallon Olsen at Commonwealth Games, from 2018.

When the Now-Leader called on a recent Wednesday, Olsen was enjoying an early-afternoon nap on a day when she didn’t have classes.

Because she’ll be away in Germany for the FIG championships, Olsen will have to work ahead to get her studies in. “I can’t fall behind,” she said with a nervous laugh. “I just have to be organized and stay on top of it all to succeed.”

At the U of Alabama, she said moving in this year was a little less difficult than last, her first year on campus.

“It’s always hard to say goodbye to my family because I won’t see them now until Christmastime,” she explained. “After the Pan Ams, I went back home to Surrey for about a week and a bit, really short, just to spend a bit of time with friends and family,” she added.

CLICK HERE to see Olsen’s bio and results on Gymnastics Canada’s website.

Earlier this year, at the 2019 Canadian gymnastics championships in Ottawa, Olsen was first in vault, fourth in floor and fifth in beam.

The reigning silver medallist on vault from the 2018 World Championships, Olsen will be in Germany on a team with Ellie Black (Halifax, NS), Brooklyn Moors (Cambridge, ON), Ana Padurariu (Whitby, ON) and Victoria Woo (Brossard, QC).

The men’s team includes René Cournoyer (Repentigny, QC), William Émard (Laval, QC), Cory Paterson (Montreal, QC), Jackson Payne (Calgary, AB), Sam Zakutney (Ottawa, ON) and Justin Karstadt (Toronto, ON).

“It’s really exciting and I love competing with Team Canada – they’re really supportive, just like my teammates and coaches here in Alabama,” Olsen said.

“With everybody (on Team Canada), I think that we’re all really strong and I’m excited about what’s coming in the future.”

The World Championships will be exciting for Canada’s men’s and women’s artistic teams as they look to qualify for Tokyo, Gymnastics Canada CEO Ian Moss said in a release.

“With podium performances for both at the recent Pan Am Games in Lima, we know that we belong amongst the top nations in the world, and are confident that our athletes, coaches, and staff will work well together to achieve their Olympic qualification objectives,” Moss stated.

Olsen and the other women will travel to France for a training camp on Sept. 25, followed by a trip to Stuttgart three days later. Meantime, the men’s team will travel to Portugal for a pre-Worlds training camp on Sept. 23 before heading to Germany.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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