A passion for vault put Shallon Olsen on a path to the Olympics
At a young age, Shallon Olsen realized she had started down the right path, she just didn’t know it could lead to a potential Olympic podium. The 21-year-old from North Vancouver, BC, began training the Yurchenko double twist early and found she had a passion for the vault.
“I think back then I sort of figured out that I had this spark that I didn’t really know that I had,” said Olsen, part of the Gymnastics Canada team that will compete at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics. “Then, over the years, I started to build my confidence up more and more. I was thinking, wow, I actually really do have potential in this event, not thinking that it would lead me to the Olympic vault final.”
Olsen was just 16 when she competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The youngest Canadian athlete at the Games, she finished eighth in the vault finals.
Currently training with Flicka Gymnastics in North Vancouver, BC, Olsen also just completed her junior year at the University of Alabama, where this year she was named First-team Championship All-American on vault. With the silver medal in vault she captured at the 2018 World Championships (where she helped Canada finish a best-ever fourth in the team event), the gold she won on vault at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and the bronze she took home from the 2019 Pan American Games, it’s clear to see that her passion for vault has yielded great success.
“I was more inexperienced back then,” Olsen said about her first Olympic experience. “I was pretty new to the scene and definitely needed more competition to compete at my best.
“Having the international experience under my belt I really feel has benefited me. I’m not nervous anymore. I’m completely 100 per cent confident in myself that I’m going to perform with purpose and to the best of my ability.”
The Olympics women’s gymnastics qualifiers begin July 25th at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre. The artistic gymnastics competition will run until August 3rd with the women’s team finals on July 27th, and the vault finals on August 1st.
While vault is Olsen’s specialty, she loves being part of the team event.
“There is so much comradery with all my teammates,” she said. “Everybody loves each other, and you can genuinely see that on the floor when we’re competing.
“I feel like a lot of teams don’t have the same type of connection that we have. When a team is close like that, it competes better. You know how to motivate your teammates and not bring them down.”
Olsen, who was named Alabama Gymnastics top rookie in 2019, is majoring in communications with a minor in sport media at university. Her aunt, Linda Olsen, is a TV news broadcaster in Calgary.
In the future, Olsen would like to do gymnastics commentary on television.
“I’m such a perfectionist,” she said. “I feel like commentating on gymnastics would be right up my alley.”
Like many athletes, Olsen was frustrated when COVID-19 forced a one-year delay in holding the Olympics but believes she will benefit from the extra training.
“I have been able to use this extra year as a way for me to improve and get better,” she said. “Having that extra year helped me focus on attention to details.
“It’s just given me the extra boost of confidence I need to really focus on my training and execute it to the best of my ability.”
READ SHALLON’S BIO WITH FULL RESULTS HERE: http://gymcan.org/disciplines/womens-artistic-gymnastics/national-teams/shallon-olsen