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Meet our Champions – Shallon Olsen

Residence: Surrey, BC
Club: University of Alabama / Omega Sports Centre
Coaches: Dana Duckworth / Vladimir Lashin & Svetlana Lashina

How did you first get involved in gymnastics?

As a child, I was a super energetic and was constantly running, jumping, and climbing everywhere, so my parents put me into gymnastics when I was three years old.

What about gymnastics has kept you interested in the sport?

I love the intricacies of learning new skills and the challenge of perfecting them and performing them at competitions.

You’ve been pretty much unbeatable on vault for the last couple of years – what do you think your secret to success is on that apparatus?

Practice, practice, practice! And repeating the skills so often that vaulting becomes automatic, and cemented into your muscle memory. 

Is the vault your favourite apparatus? If so why? And if not – which apparatus IS your favourite and why?

Vault is one of my favourite apparatus. I like it because it’s fast and over in seconds. Floor is also my favourite. I love it because you get to express your artistic side, dance, and string movements together to make it look beautiful and impress with your tumbling.

It was your debut at the Olympics, and you made it to the vault finals! How was the experience? Was it everything you thought it would be?

I didn’t expect that the warm-up would be so distant from the actual competition. It was hard to stay warm and as a result I couldn’t feel my legs as I ran down the vault runway at the Olympics. I definitely learned from this experience and will do my utmost to stay warm at the World Championships and at other competitions. Competing at the Olympics was very nerve-wracking, but ultra-exciting at the same time. It’s an extremely tough competition because you are competing against the best of the best. 

What were your goals going into the Olympics?

I wanted to get a medal on vault, but I realize now that I need more international experience before that can happen. The Olympics was a wonderful learning experience, one that I can definitely build on. Statistically it’s very difficult to win a medal on your first try, or at all at the Olympics, but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. I will definitely continue to try harder.

How did you feel when you became a World Silver Medallist?

When I became a World silver medallist, it was probably one of the most exciting experiences of my life. I didn’t really have any expectations going into the competition. I set a goal for myself to do my absolute best and, that’s exactly what I did. I attacked the vault just like I had done in the practice gym.

What’s it been like competing in the NCAA?

It’s been so much fun competing in the NCAA! It’s very different from elite, as we pay more attention to detail, and focus on the easier skills rather than the hardest skills in the book. The workouts are harder, but they make me stronger because of the number of repetitions and exercises that we do. 

Describe yourself in three words:

Joyful, energetic, and blessed.

What’s your advice for young gymnasts?

Stick with your goals and never give up.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Never give up on your dreams.


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