Rosie MacLennan (centre) gave Canada a memorable moment with her trampoline gold.There have been plenty of inspirational Canadian moments in the London Olympics thus far, from swimmers Ryan Cochrane and Brent Hayden bouncing back from accomplishing less than they wanted in Beijing to Tara Whitten leading Canadian cyclists to bronze in the team pursuit to the women's soccer team's victory over the Brits and Team Bruce Li motivating a nation to care about badminton. Still, the highlight of highlights thus far might just be Rosie MacLennan's gold medal in trampoline, the only gold medal Canada had earned through Monday afternoon. It was an amazing performance (you can see photos here, video here), and one that vaulted her onto the national stage.
[Cotsonika: MacLennan's remarkable journey]
The 23-year-old MacLennan was fourth going into the final, but put up a ridiculous 57.305 score with a 15.4 degree of difficulty on her final routine. China's He Wenna, the defending Olympic champion, then fell on one of the last tricks of her final routine, giving MacLennan the gold. It was a remarkable final performance from MacLennan, who told TV interviewers that she figured she "might as well leave it all on the trampoline," and she certainly did that. Her stunning aerial efforts even earned the admiration of Samuel L. Jackson, who apparently has not had it with these athletes on this trampoline.
What's most remarkable about MacLennan is her journey to this point. As she told Yahoo!'s Nicholas J. Cotsonika, the Olympics was a long-held dream of hers, and a family one; her grandfather qualified in gymnastics for the 1940 Olympics, which never happened thanks to the outbreak of the Second World War. She grew up wanting to go to the Olympics, and as a toddler, she was already marching around the room and pretending she was in the Opening Ceremonies. She hit the first part of her dream in Beijing, competing in those Olympics four years ago, but it didn't give her a swelled head; two years ago in Vancouver, she went to the Games, but as a volunteer at Canada House, not a competitor or a VIP. As Cotsonika writes, that experience has been turned on its head now:
She spent the 2010 Winter Games working at Canada House, the home away from home for Canadian athletes and their families, restocking food, running errands, whatever. One of her duties: going to the printer to pick up photos of medal winners, so they could be framed and put on the wall. "It was perfect," she said. "It was an amazing experience." Perfect? Amazing?
At this Olympics, Rosie MacLennan is a gold medallist. She won the women's trampoline competition Saturday in London, giving her country its first victory of the 2012 Summer Games. She was whisked to Canada House, where former Vancouver co-workers brought her food, where the prime minister called for her, where the other athletes and their families sang "O Canada" and chanted "GOLD-EN GIRL!" in her honour. Someone had to go to the printer to pick up a photo of her. It is framed and hanging on the wall. How perfect and amazing is that?
"It certainly has been a bit of a dream come true," she said.
MacLennan plans to at least somewhat return to anonymity after the Games, as she's heading to the University of Toronto in the fall to begin work on a master's degree in exercise science. Still, at 23, there could be plenty of Olympics moments in her future; her roommate at these Games, Karen Cockburn, is still shining on the trampoline at age 31. (Cockburn narrowly missed out on a medal, finishing fourth.) Regardless of what she achieves down the road, though, this gold will likely always stand out for MacLennan, and it surely will stand out to Canadian fans as well. Her performance may have been the Canadian highlight of these Games to date, and it will be remembered for a long time.