Catherine Tracy is a Correspondent for TrampolinePundit.com. She is a former trampolinist from B.C. Canada and competed for 14 years. For the past several weeks, she has traveled North America covering T&T sports, following major competitions and national gymnasts.
The Road to Rio for American trampolinists began in Providence RI with the USA Gymnastics Championships. Covering the meet for this website I had the privilege to watch and report on the action and then because of the hospitality of many people within the US trampoline community, I travelled around the country catching up with the Olympians on their journey.
The final round of competition in Providence was the most thrilling I have ever witnessed. I sat at the media table with Julia Fincher from NBC Olympics and we were both literally at the edges of our seats when it came down to the final two athletes in both divisions. Tension and excitement was palpable. Logan Dooley and Steven Gluckstein battled for the men’s spot while Nicole Ahsinger and Shaylee Dunavin fought for the women’s. It was a close competition that brought out the best in all athletes.
Logan approached the trampoline smiling and appearing almost relaxed. In our post-meet interview he assured me he was not relaxed inside, despite the outward appearance. Perhaps relaxed was the wrong word. Logan seemed to carry himself with a confident enjoyment. It appeared that he was determined to live in the moment no matter what transpired. It was as if he took in everything that was going on around him, knew it was his last chance, savoured the reaction of the crowd and turned his dream into reality
A huge cheering section of friends, family and teammates from Logan’s club, World Elite, sat together in the stands in front of the trampoline and made their way down to the competition floor after his routine. They all knew, as did Logan, that his moment had finally come.
Nicole Ahsinger used her consistent performance all year to move into the lead of the Olympic trials when an injury took points leader Charlotte Drury out of contention at the last minute. Ahsinger left home in San Diego to chase her Olympic dream in Lafayette Louisana, where the last two US female Olympians have trained. At just 18 and in her first Olympic trial, it wasn’t until the competition in Providence that Nicole realised she could do it. She told the media about that exact moment here in Providence.
Drury’s unfortunate injury reminds us that in trampoline anything can happen at any moment. No second chances, no chalking up and remounting. One shot and you’re done. No other gymnastics event is as fickle. Your dream comes true in that one shot or it doesn’t. And that is why the replacement athletes, Steven Gluckstein and Shaylee Dunavin, as well as all Olympic Trials athletes, still share a part in the Olympic story of our sport. To look at the big picture is to know that it has only been 16 years since any trampolinist could realistically dream of being an Olympian. Every athlete on the journey is an inspiration.
Competition in Providence concluded, I ventured on what could be called my own media version of an Olympic journey. In Lafayette I was welcomed into T&T Express and caught up with Nicole and watched her train. In Chicago I met up with Logan who is based in California at World Elite with coach Robert Null, but occasionally trains at Midwest Training with Kyle Bowen. Both athletes expressed the feeling that it had not quite sunken in that they would soon be Olympians.
When Logan, Nicole and the rest of the trampoline field march out in Rio they will all represent their countries and our sport. After all, it is only the fifth time that trampoline has been included in the Games. At Sydney 2000, gold medals went to Russians Irina Karavaeva and Alexander Moskalenko, but the real victory went to the sport as a whole and those first Olympians are the inspiration for the Olympians of today. In fact Jennifer Parilla, the USA’s first trampoline Olympian was teammates with a young Logan Dooley in Southern California. I caught up with Jennifer, now a coach, while in Providence. She recalled that being in Sydney for that inaugural competition felt very special.
While only 16 women and 16 men currently compete in Olympic trampoline, they carry with them the extended trampoline family. Our sport might not yet be mainstream but our tightly-knit community follows their journeys, and our Olympic dreams come true with them.