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MacLennan forced to 'start from scratch' after Rio

Publication date : 06/11/2018

After her golden outing at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where she became the first trampoline gymnast to win back-to-back Olympic titles, Rosie MacLennan (CAN) took a well-deserved rest from the sport.

But when she returned to training in 2017, something was not right. She was plagued by unexplained dizziness and neck pain.

"The more I trained, the worse it got," explained the three-time Olympian. "I tried to push through it for a while, and I tried to compete at a World Cup, and it didn't go well."

MacLennan signed off for the year shortly after taking 13th at the 2017 World Cup in Valladolid (ESP). There would be no world championships for her last year in Sofia (BUL), where teammate Sophiane Méthot picked up bronze for Canada in the women's Individual event.

Extensive testing finally revealed that MacLennan had an instability in the top of her neck caused by a loose ligament. She had suffered two concussions in the summer of 2015, including one from being struck in the head by the boot of a car.

"When I turned my head, it would impact the spinal cord so it would replicate symptoms of concussions," she said. "So physically I felt pretty poor, and mentally I was just drained."

Instead of pushing herself, she went back to basics, focussing first on rebuilding the strength in her neck.

"I just basically took all this year to build up very gradually, strengthen my neck, strengthen my whole body and address some of the other imbalances that I had that might have contributed," she said. "With Olympic qualification [in 2019] in mind, I thought it was better to stop and start from scratch rather than push through."

The native of King, Ontario, is royalty in the sport at age 30 and is not done yet. She never thought of calling it quits, she said.

"I knew I had a lot of trust in the people I was working with," says MacLennan, Canada's flag bearer for the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. "Both they and I were committed to figuring it out and putting everything I could into getting back. A lot of people assumed I retired after Rio, but I just really love the sport. I really love training. I was committed to trying to build back as much as I could. Now I feel strong and better and don't have the same problems, so it's nice to be training without those restraints."

Make no mistake, MacLennan has more to give to the sport. The 14-time world medallist is happy to be back in action in Saint Petersburg (RUS), where the world championships begin Wednesday. She says her goal is to do her two routines as planned.

"[I want] to just focus on getting those as high and clean as possible," she said. "We'll see where that ranks me!"