Canadian Gymnast Wins Irish Championships

At the end of December, Meaghan Smith of Ottawa Gymnastics qualified to Elite Canada for the first time in her career. This weekend, she became the all-around champion of Ireland.

Her Elite Canada debut included every event but floor, and though she had a rough meet on bars, she didn’t let that mar the experience for her. Everyone needs to get their feet wet in the elite world, and Smith was able to build on that to have a solid all-around competition in Dublin on Saturday, earning a 47.561 to win the gold medal.

Smith, who became an Irish citizen last summer and is affiliated with the Rathgael club in Northern Ireland in addition to continuing her training in Ottawa, looked her best on vault and floor, with her 12.634 floor score the highest of the day. Her scores could add some much-needed depth to Ireland’s program, especially as the country hopes to bring a full team to world championships next year in addition to participating in other team-oriented events.

The silver and bronze medals went to sisters Tara Donnelly and Chloe Donnelly, also Irish transplants who come from the neighboring Isle of Man, a crown dependency of the UK under the jurisdiction of British Gymnastics.

Tara represented Isle of Man at the Commonwealth Games in 2014 before changing her allegiance to Ireland internationally, and then went on to represent Ireland at European and world championships in 2015. She placed second this weekend with a 46.964, showing her strongest work on beam, where her 12.03 was the highest of the competition, though her vault difficulty was a bit too low to help her come out ahead of Smith in the all-around.

Younger sister Chloe was third with a 45.3, struggling a bit on bars, but putting up the second-best floor score of 12.1 as well as the second-best beam score of 11.6.

Beyond the top three, new senior LiLing Martin was fourth with a 45.164 and Ceri Arnott was fifth with a 35.564. Casey Bell, one of the strongest seniors at the moment, competed only on vault and bars, posting the top scores on both, while Paulina Wiktorczyk competed on bars and beam, putting up the second-best bars score of the day for the seniors.

The junior competition showed tons of promise, with the top two in that division outscoring any gymnast in the senior field. Meg Ryan won the gold with a 50.327, looking pretty solid and consistent across the board, while Emma Slevin won the silver with a 47.914 and Kate Molloy won the bronze with a 46.617. Ryan posted the top score on all events but vault, where Slevin’s 12.95 was the highest of the day.

As for the espoirs, Blathnaid Higgins led the field with a 43.948 followed by Lucy Ly in second with a 41.344 and Abbie Corbett in third with a 41.201.

Full results are available here.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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One thought on “Canadian Gymnast Wins Irish Championships

  1. Do athletes in Northern Ireland have the option of choosing to compete for Ireland instead of the U.K without fully switching nationality?

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