Jason Ransom/Canadian Olympic Committee photo                                Rosie MacLennan competes during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

Jason Ransom/Canadian Olympic Committee photo Rosie MacLennan competes during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

Olympic gold medallist aims to inspire youth

Rosie MacLennan makes White Rock appearance for Canada 150 event

One of Canada’s most decorated Olympians tumbled onto the Semiahmoo Peninsula last weekend, hosting a barbecue with a White Rock family that earlier this spring won a Canada 150 social-media contest.

Rosie MacLennan – who won gold on trampoline at both the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and, more recently, at the 2016 Rio-hosted Games – was in town Saturday, taking part in the event which included the barbecue and saw the Toronto resident take part in a game called Quizzle – described in a news release as a “Canadiana-themed quiz game” that incorporates trivia questions with the trampoline.

The contest winner, Naomi Thomas, also won a Springfree trampoline – the company sponsored the event – in addition to recieving a visit from MacLennan.

“I was really excited when Springfree came to me with this idea – this cross-Canada contest to get more people bouncng for Canada 150, and getting into the spirit of it,” MacLennan told Peace Arch News last week, prior to her arrival in B.C.

Since winning her second Olympic gold last summer, MacLennan, 28, said she has had “a few” opportunities for public appearances and events, and has relished the opportunity not just to speak with people about her Olympic experiences, but also meet, and perhaps inspire, young people across the country.

“I really enjoy it, beause it’s a great way to kind of connect with kids… and hopefully I can inspire a few of them to follow something that they’re passionate about, whether it’s sports or anything else, really,” she said, adding that most Olympic inquiries come from younger children.

“I know when I was younger, I watched the Olympics on TV and I was just so fascinated and capitivated by it. There’s obviously a lot of younger people out there who are curious about it, as well, so any chance I get to interact and answer questions is great.”

MacLennan is also something of a youth fitness advocate, and used Saturday’s appearance to promote family fitness – through the use of trampoline, or otherwise. Getting youngsters interested is relatively easy, she added, because “you can’t help but smile when you get on a trampoline.”

“It’s a great way to get families outside and active together, especially with the warmer weather coming,” she said. “It’s a great way to stay fit and spend time together.”

MacLennan’s whirlwind trip west – she arrived Friday and returned home to Ontario Sunday – did include some family time, herself. In between the White Rock barbecue and a scheduled appearance at Vancouver’s Lord Nelson Elementary’s spring carnival, she said she would have “a few hours” to visit her brother and his family, who live in the Lower Mainland.

In fact, the Olympian noted that it was her family – support from her parents and influence from her older siblings – that got her involved with the sport of trampoline in the first place.

“My siblings were gymnasts and they really liked the trampoline part… I just kind of tagged along,” she explained.

“And my parents put us in all sorts of different activities when we were younger, and gave us the opportunity to explore and find something that we really loved, and that happened to be trampoline for me.”

MacLennan said she was proud to take part in an event that was tied to the country’s year-long Canada 150 anniversary celebrations – a feeling only amplified by the fact that she has represented Canada twice on the world’s largest athletic stage: The Olympic Games.

“It’s really special, I think, for Canadians across the country, no matter what they’re doing, but one of the biggest honours is to be able to wear the Maple Leaf internationally on the Olympic stage, doing something that I love,” she said.

“To be able to celebrate the history of this country with people across Canada –especially younger kids – it’s a pretty neat thing to be a part of.”

Now back in Ontario, MacLennan – who is also juggling the completion of her University of Toronto masters’ thesis – has ramped up training for nationals later this summer.

“I’m building back up… that’ll be my first competition since Rio. I did take a bit of time – not off, but I trained lighter – because I was focused on school and some other things, but I’m focusing my attention back on training now.”