After failing to qualify for 2016 Olympics Samantha Smith is looking for trampoline Zen in Tokyo
When she failed to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics, Samantha Smith was ready to retire from trampoline. That changed after she attended what she thought would be her last competition, a 2016 World Cup event in Coimbra, Portugal. She finished seventh in the individual event and set a female world difficulty record.
“Without the pressure of the Olympic qualifying, which was really hard in 2016, I realized I still really loved training and competing,” said Smith. “I did a new routine there. It just showed me that I still had something left in the tank, that I just wasn’t done yet.”
Smith would go on to win a gold medal at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru, and will be part of the Canadian Gymnastics team competing at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.
The women’s trampoline competition will be held July 30 at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre.
The 29-year-old was born in Toronto but now lives in Vancouver and trains in nearby New Westminster at the Shasta Trampoline club with coach Curt De Wolff.
Smith’s career began as a compromise. Her parents wanted her to take a break from artistic gymnastics, so she agreed to take two weeks of trampoline at a summer camp.
“Two weeks of trampoline camp turned into 15 years of competitive trampoline,” she said.
“I stay in the sport because I love it. I love the feeling of flying. I love the constant opportunity to learn new tricks. I love that when you are in the air you are completely free from life’s distractions.”
Before moving to B.C. to attend university, Smith trained in Toronto at Skyriders Trampoline Place with two-time Olympic gold medallist Rosie MacLennan, Jason Burnett - a silver medallist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and Karen Cockburn, a three-time Olympic medallist who is now the National Team Director for Trampoline Gymnastics at Gymnastics Canada.
“Training and watching all of them was such a privilege,” said Smith. “It was amazing.”
She attended the 2012 London Olympics as an alternate and sat with MacLennan’s family when she won gold. Smith’s plan was to compete at the 2016 Games then retire.
Failing to qualify for Rio made her rethink her priorities.
“This time around I really wanted to make the Olympics, but I focused more on what that meant as an athlete, what sort of athlete I wanted to be,” said Smith. “I wanted to be capable of the best performance but also focus more on the presence I wanted in the gym.
“I think that helped my success this time around. I also believe it would have made me a little bit more resilient if I had failed because I still accomplished what I set out to do, which was to become a better athlete and leader in the gym.”
Besides training for the Olympics, Smith also works as a physiotherapist.
“I think maybe it’s a bigger advantage than if I had a desk job,” she said. “It’s quite a healthy active job and physios overall are healthy and active. We’re also probably the worst patients.”
Smith heads to Tokyo focused on what she wants her performance to be, not where she will finish in the field.
“I know what I want my routines to feel like,” she said. “There’s the state you get in trampoline where every skill is sharp and floatie. We call it trampoline Zen.
“I want to do really sharp, solid, flowing routines. I’ll be happy with those, regardless of the final ranking.”
READ SAMANTHA’S BIO WITH FULL RESULTS HERE: http://gymcan.org/disciplines/trampoline/national-teams/samantha-smith