SOFIA — Olympic champion Rosie MacLennan leads a young Canadian team into this year’s world trampoline and tumbling championships in Sofia, Bulgaria November 7-10 looking to fill the gap left by absent veterans Jason Burnett and Karen Cockburn.
With Burnett out with an injury and Cockburn taking time off after becoming a first-time mother, MacLennan is the lone member of Canada’s 2012 Olympic team in the lineup, leaving plenty of room for younger athletes to pick up the slack.
For MacLennan this year’s world’s will be the biggest test she’s faced since winning Canada’s only gold medal at the 2012 Summer Games in London just over a year ago.
With two world bronze medals and a silver already on the books, MacLennan is missing only the gold to make her collection complete.
Standing in the way is a formidable Chinese team led by 2008 Olympic champion He Wenna.
A new format at this year’s event with two qualifying rounds should help the Canadians, especially the women’s team comprised of MacLennan, Samantha Sendel and Samantha Smith, all from Toronto.
MacLennan and Sendel are also expected to be among the medal contenders in the women’s synchro event.
In men’s trampoline the Canadian team will be hard pressed to contend for a medal in the individual event without Burnett, a seven-time Canadian champion and the 2008 Olympic silver medallist.
But brothers Kyle and Keegan Soehn of Red Deer, Alta., and Sebastien St-Germain of Montreal, have their sights set on a strong result in the team competition.
“We can see this as a time for the others to shine,” says Canadian high performance trampoline director Stephan Duchesne of Montreal.
“The big star is not here so step up and do it. There no margin for error, the three who are competing must hit their routines.”
In men’s synchro the Soehn brothers will also be vying for a spot in the final after winning medals at the last two World Cup competitions.
In other events, Canada is the defending world champions in the team competition in both men’s and women’s double mini trampoline.
Members of the women’s team are: Corissa Boychuk of Airdrie, Alta., Tamara O’Brien of Vancouver, Lexi Geisbrecht of Calgary, and Pam Kriangkum of Edmonton.
Members of the men’s team are Denis Vachon of Burlington, Ont., Jon Schwaiger of Burlington, Ont., Dennis Oppenlander of Regina and Keegan Soehn.
Schwaiger, a two-event competitor, also leads the Canadian men’s tumbling team while veteran Emily Smith of Burlington, Ont., is the top contender on the women’s side.
Other members of the men’s and women’s tumbling teams are: Vincent Lavoie and Junior Charpentier-Leclerc, both of Drummondville, Que., David Findlay of Hamilton, Ont., Katelyn Verschoor of Brantford, Ont., and Jordan Sugrim of Burlington, Ont.