It’s no coincidence that three Canadian Olympic hopefuls who turned senior at the start of 2015 are all named Sydney.
Sydney Townsend, Sydney Laird, and Sydney Soloski were all born in 1999, a year before the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. See the connection? All three are members of Canada’s national team with extensive international experience as juniors. All three will vie for spots on their nation’s Pan American Games and World Championships teams later this year. And all three want to make Canada’s team for the 2016 Olympic Games.
After struggling to field a strong team at 2014 World Championships, the Sydneys step in with perfect timing as potential game changers for Canada. Read on to learn a bit more about their careers, how they can help their team, and why we love them!
The youngest of the Sydneys, Townsend celebrated her 15th birthday the day before Christmas in 2014. A student of Aaron and Angela Brokenshire at Revolution Gymnastics in Ontario, she made her first appearance in elite gymnastics when she was just 11.
A year later, Townsend was junior national champion. Since then, she’s been a regular fixture at Elite Gym Massilia, Elite Canada, and International Gymnix, and then in the summer of 2014, she was given her first major international assignments with spots at the Junior Pan American Championships (where she won gold with her team) and then the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China. In Nanjing, she placed 12th in the all-around and 7th during both vault and floor finals.
Indeed, vault and floor are Sydney’s best events. Here’s her floor from last year’s Canadian Nationals, where she earned a 13.425.
She’s also got a pretty solid DTY, which would be a great help on the world stage, as they were surprisingly lacking on this event last year:
Though Townsend’s biggest goal in the next few years is to make it to Rio, she is also excited to begin an NCAA career, having verbally committed to the University of Michigan for the 2017-2018 season.
Sydney Laird, who turned 15 on September 5, actually lives and trains at First in Flight Gymnastics in North Carolina, also home to young U.S. elite Hannah Joyner. She was born in Saskatchewan, but hasn’t played a big role in Canadian gymnastics until about a year ago, when she qualified to junior international elite.
Prior to beginning her elite journey, Laird had tons of experience in USA Gymnastics’ J.O. program, beginning level 10 competition in 2013 and making it to J.O. Championships the same year. In 2014, she split her time between level 10 in the U.S. and junior elite in Canada, again qualifying to J.O. Championships (where she placed 24th) and then competing at Canadian Championships a few weeks later, placing 8th in the all-around with a 51.950.
After less than a year as a junior elite, Laird earned spots at Belgium’s international junior meets Coupe Avenir, where she placed 3rd all-around and 1st on bars, and Top Gym, where took home an all-around silver behind Russia’s Angelina Melnikova.
Laird currently brings in her highest scores on floor, though with some work I think she could be a fantastic beam gymnast.
Here’s one of her first ever elite floor routines, at last year’s Elite Canada.
Best about Sydney is her beautiful style and flexibility. Her leaps are insanely lovely, her toe point is phenomenal, and there’s tremendous grace and natural ease in all of her dance elements.
Though her difficulty needs some work, she’s slowly getting there and is adding skills all the time. Planned upgrades on YouTube include a Ricna, 2.5 to punch front, van Leeuwen, and side aerial to layout stepout.
Laird has committed to Arkansas for the 2017-2018 season. In 2015, she will again split her time between J.O. and Canadian elite competition.
Like Laird, Soloski is relatively new to junior elite in Canada, having achieved the status in the spring of 2013. A gymnast at Calgary Gymnastics Center, Soloski has committed to Utah for the 2017-2018 season, but like the other Sydneys in this talented group, she also has the Olympics on her mind.
2014 was a busy year for Soloski, beginning with an 8th place spot at Elite Canada and then followed up with 6th AA at Canadian Championships, and then a gold medal win at Coupe Avenir – also known as the Futures Cup – in Belgium, where she beat Romania’s Andreea Ciurusnius with a 52.332 in the all-around.
A couple of weeks later, she placed 5th in the all-around at Top Gym, where she also took home silver on beam and bronze on floor.
Beam is definitely where Soloski shines, hitting difficult skills with precision and elegance, like shown here in her 2013 Canadian Championships gold medal-winning beam routine:
She also shows strong tumbling and great musicality on floor, where she hita huge double layout and stuck double tuck at Coupe Avenir:
Soloski is also training bigger skills, like a double arabian on floor, in order to increase her difficulty for the coming years.
Barring injury, all three Sydneys should be in attendance at Elite Canada next weekend, making their senior debuts with 2016 in mind.
Article by Lauren Hopkins