Canadian-born Jessica Dowling told IG she is excited to take part in this month's Dutch championships as the next step in her efforts to represent the Netherlands in international competition.
"Because my mom was born in the Netherlands, I am automatically a Dutch citizen and I have a dual citizenship," said Dowling, who placed first all-around in the Open division at last month's Canadian championships. "I think I can help the Dutch team on floor and bars, and also think I have potential to upgrade my vault and beam to make a contribution there, as well."
Dowling said she began her quest to represent the Netherlands after injuries made her unable to compete at the Elite Canada meet last December.
"As a result I was no longer part of the Canadian selection process," Dowling said. "I then decided to contact the Dutch federation, who put us in contact with the national head coach (Gerben Wiersma). After a successful week of training in the Netherlands with (Wiersma), he invited me to attend the Dutch national championships in order to be eligible for their selection process. We decided to take advantage of this unique opportunity."
Dowling said Wiersma and the Dutch federation welcomed her interest in competing for them.
"They were very enthusiastic with this unexpected development," she said. "(Wiersma) felt I had a good program on bars and floor, and also that I could make a good contribution to the Dutch team on beam and vault. He considered me an all-around athlete."
Dowling said her coaches at Oakville Gymnastics Club in Ontario have also encouraged her to pursue a place on the Dutch team.
"My coaches are very supportive because they were also disappointed that I am no longer eligible for the Canadian selection process," she said.
Among Dowling's most enthusiastic supporters is her mother, Ellen.
"My mom is very proud for my perseverance and coming back after my Achilles', heel and shoulder injuries," Dowling told IG. "Even though she finds it unfortunate that I am not part of the Canadian selection process, she is very happy that I am able to still pursue my goals as an elite gymnast. She loves going home and seeing her family."