In front, Shallon Olsen, Rose-Kaying Woo, and Isabela Onyshko show off Canada’s Olympic leos (made by Jagwear). Returning Olympians Ellie Black and Brittany Rogers are in the back.
After qualifying to the team final last year at the world championships for the first time ever, Team Canada is headed to the Olympic games with a full five-member team, featuring returning Olympians Ellie Black and Brittany Rogers (who helped their team to a program best fifth place finish in 2012) along with 2016 national all-around champion Isabela Onyshko, 2016 national vault champion Shallon Olsen, and 2014 junior national all-around champion Rose-Kaying Woo.
For first-year senior Olsen, 16, the Olympics will be her biggest senior international competition yet. This British Columbia native who trains at Omega Sports Centre under Vladimir and Svetlana Lashin is most likely to contribute on vault and floor at the Games, with a shot at qualifying to the vault final. Olsen has proven herself quite the consistent competitor this year, winning the vault title in all four competitions she has entered, along with consistently placing in the top three on floor. Her biggest achievements to date include winning the vault title at the 2016 Pacific Rim Championships, along with winning the vault title at every Canadian national championships she has attended (2010-2016).
The other first-year senior on the Canadian team is Woo, also 16, who trains at Gym-Richelieu under Michel Charron and Marie-Josée Laperrière. She also trains alongside her sister, Victoria-Kayen Woo, who was a part of the 2014 and 2015 World Championships teams. Plagued with injuries throughout the year, Woo has had a somewhat inconsistent start to her senior career. After a rough first day at nationals, Woo regrouped and hit four-for-four on the second day of competition, winning the all-around bronze medal with a score of 55.375. Proving that she can fight through injury and compete amongst the best, Woo also had a successful selection camp, which led to her being named to the Olympic team. She will most likely contribute on uneven bars and balance beam at the Olympics, with the potential to go up on floor in the qualification round. Her career highlights to date include being the 2014 junior national all-around champion, and being part of the 2014 Pacific Rim Championships team that won a silver medal.
Manitoba born and raised Onyshko, 18, will be heading to the Olympics as the Canadian favorite to qualify to the all-around final. She will also be the first Manitoban gymnast to compete at the Games. Training at Brandon Eagles Gymnastics under Lorie Henderson and Joe Stouffer, Onyshko has improved steadily over the past few years. Along with her consistency on all four events, she also brings lots of international experience to the team, along with a solid bars set and an upgraded beam routine. In the past two years alone, Onyshko has been part of two world championships teams, the 2014 Commonwealth Games team, and the 2015 Pan American Games silver medal-winning team. Winning the Canadian national all-around title this year (defeating Black, the three-time defending national champion), it appears that she is peaking just in time for the Olympics.
2012 Olympian Rogers, 23, is set to compete at her second Olympic Games after having resumed elite training in 2015 at the Calgary Gymnastics Centre under coaches Janna Ball and David Kenwright. Following the 2012 Olympics, Rogers went on to compete in the NCAA for the Georgia Gym Dogs, recently winning the 2016 NCAA bars title to cap off her senior year. Juggling NCAA and elite gymnastics the past two years has appeared to be effortless for her, with her most impressive feat when she competed at the 2016 Pacific Rim Championships in April for Team Canada and then represented her school at the 2016 NCAA National Championships a week later. Rogers brings to the Canadian team a very strong vault and bars set, along with a solid beam routine. Her greatest chance at qualifying to an individual final comes on the vault, though this will be difficult as the field on that particular event this quadrennium is more competitive than ever. Her greatest accomplishments to date include finishing seventh on vault at the 2012 Olympics, along with qualifying to the all-around and vault finals at the 2009 World Championships.
Perhaps the most well-known gymnast on the team, 20-year-old returning Olympian Black is sure to make an impact at this summer’s games. The Nova Scotia native who trains under Keiji Yamanaka and David Kikuchi at Halifax Alta Gymnastics Club finished in a historic seventh place in the all-around competition at last year’s world championships, the highest ever for a Canadian gymnast. Black will prove to be a valuable asset for the Canadian team because of her strong routines across all four events, especially on the balance beam, where she has a chance at qualifying to the event final. Most recently, her success has come on the floor exercise where she finished first at the 2016 Canadian Championships. Her most prominent achievements to date include winning three gold medals at the 2015 Pan American Games (all-around, beam, floor) and qualifying to six individual finals over the past three world championships.
Overall this team has the prospect to be one of the strongest teams Canada has ever sent to the Olympic Games. Though potentially stronger than the team who finished in a historic fifth place at the London Games, the world of gymnastics has only gotten tougher and more competitive, meaning that the Canadians will have to compete well in qualifications in order to qualify to the team final. Once they get there, the goal will be to meet or improve upon their fifth-place 2012 finish, something they’re fully capable of making happen if they hit.
Article by Emily Bischoff