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Brown Sees Bright Future for Herself, Canada
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Although the Canadian women did not qualify a full team for next year's Beijing Olympics, Alyssa Brown hopes to win one of two individual Olympic spots they earned at last month's World Championships.

"There is definitely more pressure now competing for one of two spots, but I plan to work extremely hard this year and just enjoy every minute of it," Brown told IG this week. "I'm focused on doing the best I can possibly do, and as long as I do that, I will have no regrets."

Brown was the top Canadian all-arounder (34th place in preliminaries) at the World Championships held Sept. 1-9 in Stuttgart, where Canada placed 14th in the team competition. The top 12 teams in Stuttgart earned team berths to Beijing, and teams that finished 13th, 14th and 15th earned spots for two individuals.

Brown, who trains at the Gymnastics Mississauga club in Ontario, said she was pleased with her individual performance in Stuttgart.

"I worked particularly hard on improving my B-scores all year in preparation for this competition, and it felt great to be able to go out and perform the way I have been in training," she said. "The one thing I could have improved was my difficulty. I had taken out some of my difficulty, especially on floor, in order to perform cleanly and ensure I hit for the team."

The 18-year-old Brown has been a mainstay on the Canadian team throughout the current Olympic cycle. She placed sixth all-around at the 2005 and 2007 Canadian Championships, and fourth all-around and first on balance beam at the 2006 Canadian Championships.

Internationally in 2006, Brown finished sixth all-around at both the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and the Pacific Alliance Championships in Honolulu; and 14th with her team at the World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark.

Brown said she does not believe one specific reason caused the Canadian women's mistakes in Stuttgart.

"We looked strong during all of our training camps, and the team was really motivated and focused on the same goal," she said. "It's a tough sport, and I guess it just wasn't our day. One thing I believe the team could have improved was our level of difficulty. We went out there hoping to hit clean routines, whereas the other countries were able to hit clean routines with a higher level of difficulty than we had."

Brown said she understood the need to offset her personal disappointment by encouraging the team's younger gymnasts, three of whom were competing at the World Championships for the first time.

"The reality of not qualifying a team to the 2008 Olympics is a very tough situation," Brown said. "I tried to help the team, especially the younger ones, by telling them to stay positive and not to get down on the reality of what happened. Instead, they should try and learn from some of the mistakes the team had and move forward."

Brown said the most important thing that future Canadian teams can do is gain as much experience as possible, competing on a podium in front of a large crowd.

"This is one advantage that I had coming into Worlds this year," Brown said. "I think that could have helped some of the younger girls on our team. It's overwhelming walking into the competition venue at the World Championships, and the more you can prepare yourself for that moment, the better."

Following next summer's Beijing Olympics, Brown plans to continue her career in collegiate competitions while studying at Stanford University in California.

"Stanford is such an incredible school with an amazing team and coaches," she said. "I am really looking forward to beginning a new stage of my life down there."

Brown is equally enthusiastic about the future of the Canadian women's program.

"I know there are great things to come for Canadian gymnastics, and that we will improve our international team ranking each year on the way to the next Olympics," she said.

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