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Tokyo 2020 Qualification eludes Canadian men’s artistic gymnastics team

The team, composed of René Cournoyer of Repentigny, QC, William Émard of Laval, QC, Cory Paterson of Montreal, QC, Jackson Payne of Calgary, AB, and Sam Zakutney of Ottawa, ON finished the team qualifiers in 17th position – one place higher than their 18th place finish at the 2018 World Championships.

The top-9 teams, excluding China, Russia, and Japan – who all secured their Olympic spots at the 2018 World Championships, booked their tickets for Tokyo. This was the last chance for countries to qualify a full four-person team for the Olympics. The top-8 teams qualified for the team finals which take place on Wednesday.

The team started off the competition strong with consistent performances on the rings, vault, and parallel bars, but then slipped a bit with their horizontal bar performances and were then unable to claw back the points they would have needed to secure their Olympic spot.

“It was a tough competition, and we fought right to the end, and gave it our all. I’m really proud of the guys for fighting right to the end, and putting some good routines out there,” said Paterson who captured a bronze medal in the all-around at the 2019 Pan American Games this past summer.

Cournoyer was the top-finisher in the all-around qualifiers, finishing the day in 43rd position, while Émard was the top individual apparatus finisher, placing 17th on the floor. Unfortunately, no one qualified for the all-around or apparatus finals.

“Words don’t really express the emotions felt by the team right now,” said Ed Van Hoof, Head National Team Coach for Gymnastics Canada. “Everyone involved – the athletes, the coaches, the judges, and their families, got behind the team effort and I thank them for that. As with every Olympic Games qualification, expectations were high. The team is much improved since Doha 2018; these guys gave their best, but unfortunately, we came up short. Competition is unforgiving and no one can hide. I am certain they will take valuable lessons from this and Canada will come back better and stronger.”

The 2019 World Championships continue tomorrow with the women’s team final which starts at 14:30 local, 08:30 ET, and will be streamed live in Canada via the CBC’s online platforms and on the FIG YouTube Channel.

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