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Pan Am trampoline medallists shift focus to Canadian championships in Calgary

With the exception of women’s gold medal winner Rosie MacLennan of Toronto, Canada’s Pan Am team members will now shift their focus to the four-day event which combines national championships in various age groups with an open senior event including international competitors.

MacLennan, who wasn’t sure she would be able to compete at the Games after sustaining a mild concussion three weeks ago, will bypass the Canadian championships this year to gear up for the world championships.

“The past two weeks have been really tough on her and basically she just needed a break,” said Canadian high performance director Stephan Duchesne of Montreal.

With MacLennan out of action, Pan Am bronze medallist Karen Cockburn of Toronto will be the front runner for the women’s individual title.

Also in the running are Samantha Sendel of Aurora, Ont., and Samantha Smith of Toronto, both members of Canada’s silver-medal winning team at the 2013 world championships.

More than national titles are riding on the outcome with competitors in individual and synchro trampoline, double mini trampoline and tumbling also vying for a spot at the world championships this fall in Denmark.

In men’s trampoline Keegan Soehn of Red Deer, Alta., brimming with confidence after winning his second straight Pan Am Games gold medal, will be looking to keep up the momentum with another strong performance in Calgary.

Eight-time Canadian champion Jason Burnett of Toronto, who placed fourth at the Pan Ams in his first competition since major knee surgery last year, and Kyle Soehn, older brother of Keegan, are also among the medal contenders.

“I’m expecting good performances again from our Pan Am team,” said Duchesne. “But this year our main focus is the Olympic qualification in November, so I’m not expecting athletes to be at their top.”

In the men’s double mini trampoline competition, Keegan Soehn, one of the few trampoline gymnasts competing in two disciplines, will be aiming for his second straight Canadian title while 2014 world team members Tamara O’Brien of Vancouver, Arden Oh of Calgary and Danielle Gruber of Kelowna, B.C., are among the top contenders for the women’s crown.

In tumbling, defending champion John Schwaiger of Burlington, Ont.,  leads the way on the men’s side while the women’s competition is shaping up as a major opportunity for younger competitors to claim the title vacated by the retirement of perennial Canadian champion Emily Smith of Burlington, Ont.

Organized jointly by Gymnastics Canada and the Alberta Gymnastics Federation, the 2015 Trampoline Gymnastics Canadian Open begins Friday and runs through Monday at the Genesis Centre of Community Wellness, 7555 Falconridge Blvd NE, Calgary.

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