Karen Cockburn, a 35-year-old trampoline gymnast is on her way for her fifth Olympic participation. However, her road for Rio Olympic Games just got a lot tougher – and she’s putting the blame on herself.
She has a rather very attractive gymnastics resume, she’s a four-time Olympian, with three Olympic medals in three of them – bronze in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, and silver in Athens and Beijing in 2004 and 2008 respectively.
Also, in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, she had almost secured a spot on the podium after finishing fourth. In spite of that, the medal-winning streak of Canada was kept alive by her teammate, 27-year-old Canadian gymnast, Rosie MacLennan, after winning the gold medal in the Olympic trampoline event.
However, this time, only one of them will get the chance to compete at the 2016 Rio Olympics, due to an unfortunate result of the Canadian team at the 2015 World Trampoline Gymnastics Championships in Odense, Denmark last November.
Two Olympic spots were at stake but only MacLennan were able to secure a berth after securing a fourth-place finish.
Karen Cockburn also had a chance to reach the semifinals, but unfortunately, she came up short that day.
“I messed up one of my elements. We would have had two (Olympic) sports, but I had an off day, so unfortunately…,” she said, with her voice slightly fading away.
So, instead of teaming up with the defending gold medallist MacLennan to the Rio Summer Olympics, the Canadian team will now have to unseat her to go.
Not that Cockburn looks at it that way.
“The more we train and push each other the better it is for whoever that one person is (who earns the nomination for Rio). We need to make each other better.”
And she stated that everybody has to be prepared in case of injury.
Ironically, it wasn’t the thought of taking part in Olympics for the fifth time that prevented Cockburn from ending her gymnastics career after finishing in the fourth spot at the 2012 Olympics.
“For me I always thought I’d retire after London (Olympics), I wanted to start a family, it was always my plan. But then I really wanted to compete at the Pan Am Games here in Toronto.”
Karen did compromise a little bit, after the 2012 Summer Olympics, she took a year off the sport to have her daughter who is now 2 years old.
She came back to the sport in 2014.
“I had an amazing year coming back in 2014 and I thought I was going to go for a medal at those World’s but I shattered my ankle.”
It was until February before her cast has been removed.
In spite of that, she was able to participate in the Pan Am Games and was satisfied with the outcome. She took home the bronze medal while her compatriot MacLennan took gold.
“It was kind of like our second chance to share that podium that we missed in London because I came fourth there. That was awesome for us.”
After all the effort and hard work she put in for the Pan Ams, it made sense for her to postpone her permanent retirement until after the 2016 Olympics
“My main goal was coming back for Pan Am Games but I figured since I was at a high level I might as well try and help the team earn a spot going into Rio whether it be for me or not.”
Despite living today in Stouffvile with her daughter and husband, she still has a sentimental memory of growing up in the city.
“I grew up in North York, so I went to Roywood, Downsview (public schools), George Henry (Academy) so I spent like 20-plus years there (in North York).”
According to her, the majority of her childhood was spent playing different sports.
“I did so many sports growing up. I did diving, trampoline, gymnastics, synchronized swimming. I played on the (George S. Academy) high school soccer team, I competed for the swim team, I played volleyball. I was just a sport lover in general,” she said.
“But then I had to focus on trampoline as it got more serious, and I started travelling and competing for Canada, and my focus became more narrow.”
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