Preparing for the upcoming Canadian Championships, 2007 worlds competitor Sydney Sawa talked to IG about her goals and her new role on the rejuvenated Canadian team.
Sawa was a member of the Canadian team that placed 14th at the 2007 World Championships in Stuttgart, where the top 12 teams qualified for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. She now aims to improve her own international ranking as she lends experience to the current group of Canadian gymnasts that include first-year seniors Brittany Rogers, Charlotte Mackie and Peng Peng Lee.
Born June 15, 1992, in Calgary, Sawa trains at Calgary Gymnastics Centre. Her coaches are Janna Ball, Ovidiu Serban and consulting coach David Kenwright. Sawa is a second generation Japanese-Canadian; her grandparents moved from Japan to Canada, where her parents were born.
Sawa tied for third place all-around at the 2007 Canadian Championships, and placed fifth all-around at the 2008 Canadian Championships. She finished second all-around (between Rogers and Mackie) at the 2008 Elite Canada meet, held at the end of the year.
Sawa's best international results include 43rd place all-around in qualifications at the 2007 worlds; eighth place on balance beam at the 2008 DTB Cup in Stuttgart; and third place on uneven bars and floor exercise at the 2009 Gymnix World Cup in Montreal.
As Sawa prepares for the Canadian Championships (May 31-June 7 in Hamilton, Ont.), she shared her thoughts on her expectations for this and future competitions.
IG: How has your gymnastics changed since the 2007 World Championships, and how have you changed in terms of confidence?
SS: These past couple years have probably been hardest to deal with in terms of emotional highs and lows. I would have days where I could do anything my coaches told me to, and other days where I could barely make it through skills. I have definitely changed my training strategy this past season. I've been training more “day by day” and have become more efficient during practices. I have to admit, my confidence after 2007 Worlds wasn't the highest, but I have learned from the experience and have gained huge amounts of confidence in competitions and even in trainings.
IG: What expectations are you placing on yourself, or do you feel are being placed on you by others, in terms of the future of Canadian gymnastics?
SS: I just want to be someone people can come talk to, or give advice. I think if we become closer as a team, we will become a stronger team. If this means that I need to take on the leadership role, then I'll do it.
Sawa at the 2007 World Championships in Stuttgart
IG: Having been part of the last Olympic cycle, you are in a unique position to help guide the new generation of Canadians, such as Brittany Rogers, Charlotte Mackie and Peng-Peng Lee. How are you handling your recent status as a team veteran?
SS: It's so hard to believe that in just a couple years I have gone from one of the youngest, to being called the veteran! It's pretty crazy. Even though I have been a senior for only an extra year, I still learn from them. They have so much energy all the time which really motivates me to keep up.
IG: What impresses you about the first-year seniors?
SS: These girls are so confident when they compete! This is something that I definitely look up to. They perform their routines with maturity and poise, and have many unique skills that really stand out.
IG: What are your expectations and goals for the Canadian Championships?
SS: I have had some time to rest since my last competition in order to peak at the right time for nationals. I was able to play around with some new skills which upped my motivation. I have struggled a little bit on certain routines this year; however, I expect to handle myself with confidence and show people how hard I've been working all year.
IG: Looking ahead to the 2009 World Championships in London, where do you think the Canadian gymnasts stand, compared to the last worlds in 2007?
SS: This year's team is, no doubt, a lot younger. Even though there is a little less experience in competitions such as World Cups, I think this year's team has the potential to make a great impression.
IG: Although this year's Worlds won't include a team competition, what do you see are the main aspects of Canadian gymnastics that need to be improved for a better finish in future team events than in Stuttgart?
SS: We knew had a lot of pressure going into the 2007 World Championships. One thing we could work on is not only increasing difficulty, but working on consistency. Also, specializing might be a strategy that will keep athletes healthy and stronger on each event.
International Gymnast Magazine Related Features
"Shooting Star" - Rogers profile (July/August 2007)
"A Passion For Performance" - Lee profile (June 2006)
"Pride For Family and Canada" - Mackie profile (November 2006)
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