Rosie MacLennan was the only Canadian to win gold at the 2012 Olympics. Image by: Getty Images
Gold medallist Rosie MacLennan has learned how to keep things in perspective while reaching new heights as a trampoline gymnast.Rosie MacLennan closed her eyes and mentally ran through the routine that would decide her Olympic fate. Opening her eyes to the London stadium packed with 17,000 spectators, she caught a glimpse of her family before she stepped onto the trampoline. “Seeing my mom’s face in the crowd was a great reminder that, no matter what happened—if I fell on my face or had the meet of my life—my family would still love me. It kept my feet on the ground—well, until I got on the trampoline,” she says, laughing.
That routine earned Rosie a personal best and Canada’s only Olympic gold in 2012. But even after adding a Pan Am gold and a world title to her list of successes, the trampoline gymnast has remained grounded.
Rosie, 27, has had help keeping things in perspective. Days after coming home to King City, Ont., from the Olympics, her mom had her sweeping the porch and raking the lawn, and her coach was telling her she would need to do better.
While Rosie’s inner circle keeps her in touch with reality, they also help her dream big. When, as a kid, she began writing stories about going to the Olympics, her parents encouraged her to go for it. And when her coach suggests seemingly impossible skills or routines, she knows he’s driving her to think bigger. “Sometimes, I look at him and go, ‘You’re a little crazy.’ But he inspires me to challenge myself.”
While bouncing yourself six metres in the air to try a flip no one’s ever done before would be terrifying for most, what scares Rosie is the possibility of not competing at all. Last year, she came close to facing that reality when she developed a concussion after a fall in training. She was left with months of dizziness and spatial awareness issues—dangerous problems for an athlete who performs flips and spins midair. “When I wasn’t able to jump, I relearned why I’m really doing it,” she says. “You can get caught up in the competition, but I realized all I want to do is jump on a trampoline.”
As the only 2012 Canadian Olympic gold medallist headed to Rio, Rosie faces immense pressure to win again. To keep her cool, she looks to her support system. “The way we’ve talked about it is, if I go in thinking I’m a defending champion, I have something to lose. And I don’t feel like I have anything to lose. I’ve earned this incredible opportunity to compete in another Olympic Games, and we’ll see what happens.”
Rosie's quick questionnaire
1. What song do you play to pump yourself up?
I have two songs. One before my first routine, which is “Let the Drummer Kick” by Citizen Cope. And then, before my second routine “Stronger” by Kanye West.
2. What food is your guilty pleasure?
Chocolate. And my grandma’s chocolate chip cookies.
3. What’s your biggest fear?
Train tracks. I don’t like being around trains. They don’t stop.
4. What’s your favourite quote/mantra/affirmation?
“Chase the dream. Love the journey.”
Finish the sentence:
5. If I weren’t an athlete, I’d be… I don’t know. I have no idea.
6. I’m proud to be Canadian because… we have incredible opportunities and incredible landscape.
7. Someday I hope to… travel more and actually get to see more. Right now we only see the gyms of the world. I love beaches.
8. Right now I’m reading… Red Notice and watching… House of Cards and Suits.
9. One thing you probably don’t know about me is… I love to wakesurf.