2012 Canadian Olympian and Stanford University senior Kristina Vaculik told IG she is already reflecting with pride and pleasure as her gymnastics career comes to a close this spring.
Kristina Vaculik (Canada) on beam for Stanford University
"Looking back and realizing all I've done, I've been seriously the luckiest person in the world," said Vaculik, who is preparing for the upcoming conference, regional and national collegiate championships. "I've had the chance to experience both international and college gymnastics. Both experiences have been amazing for me."
Coached by 1980 Olympic all-around champion Yelena Davydova at Gemini Gymnastics Club in Oshawa, Vaculik won the Canadian national all-around title in 2007, 2010 and 2012. She enrolled at Stanford in 2011, but took the 2012 season off to train at home for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
At the London Games, Vaculik helped Canada finish fifth in the team final, its best team result in Olympic history. She returned to Stanford following the Games and resumed her collegiate gymnastics career.
Vaculik credits her successful transitions to the cooperation of her club and university coaches.
"I've been so lucky to have the support from my coaches at home, and support from my Stanford coaches with my international and college goals," she said. "I'm glad for their support in developing me as a person, and helping me reach for other goals, and academically, too."
Vaculik said she is enjoying her final season of competition, which was delayed by a bout with mononucleosis.
"I went home for Christmas with my family, and came back and was diagnosed," she said. "I was supposed to be out for three weeks, as a precaution, and then work my way back. But I couldn't do anything. I couldn't raise my heart rate at all. That was a little tough. I guess I was just lucky, and my immune system was able to fight it off pretty quickly."
Vaculik, who will graduate with a degree in human biology this spring, is eager to begin her life outside the gym.
"I'm excited because I know that, when I graduate from Stanford, I have something else to look forward to," she said. "I'll be applying to medical school, finding new passions and following those. It's going to be really sad to leave gymnastics, but I'll always love and follow it."
Vaculik has a particularly personal reason to keep tabs on the sport, especially collegiate gymnastics. Her younger sister, Canadian national team member Natalie Vaculik, competes for the University of Georgia.
"It's so exciting to watch my sister do it, too, because it's her freshman year and she's having an amazing time," Vaculik said of Natalie. "She's doing so well, and it's exciting to see her go through that and relive those moments with her."
Vaculik is more cheerful than nostalgic as she draws near the end of her own competitive years.
"Looking back it's incredible what I've been able to experience, and I'm so thankful to everyone who's helped me along the way," she told IG. "I'm just so thankful for everything I've done."
International Magazine's coverage of Kristina Vaculik includes:
"Veteran Presence" – Vaculik profile (July/August 2010)
Vaculik cover photo (April 2010)
"Canadian Conquerors" – Vaculik profile (September 2007)
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