Canada's BestCanada were one of the teams that had to wait until the London 2012 Test Event earlier this year to try to qualify a full team to the Olympics. They did so in 2nd place behind Italy but it would not be easy to break into the top eight teams who had already qualified at the 2011 World Championships. With only the top eight of the twelve teams qualifying to the Team Final they had a big job to do in qualification if they wanted to make it through. It was also something they desperately wanted as no Canadian team had ever made it to the Team Finals at the Olympics before.
The Canadians started the qualification competition on bars where they competed well and posted steady scores. Beam saw some problems though and two of their gymnasts posted low scores. One of these low scores would have to count as three of the four scores on each apparatus count to the team score in qualification. Floor was next and some great performances, putting the disappointment of beam well behind them. I especially love Victoria Moors beautiful, elegant and expressive floor routine but unfortunately the score was not high enough to earn her a place in the floor final. Their last apparatus was vault where they again posted good, steady scores and both Brittany Rogers and Elsabeth Black qualified to the vault final. It was then a wait to see if they had done enough to qualify to the Team Final as there were still two more subdivisions of qualifying to go and five other teams who were yet to compete. They had done enough, but only just. Canada qualified in 8th place, but even that was reason enough for celebration - they had done what no Canadian women's gymnastic team had ever done before by simply qualifying for the team final. Their goal for the Olympics had already been achieved.
Having already done what they had set out to do, the Canadian girls seemed more relaxed in the Team Final and really seemed to enjoy their performances despite the pressure of the 3-up-3-count rule. They started on floor where we saw another beautiful routine from Victoria Moors and all three gymnasts made a good start to the team final on this apparatus, finishing Rotation 1 up in 4th place. Then on to vault, and all three vaulters bettered their score from qualification. By the end of Rotation 2, and half way through the competition, Canada were still in 4th place. Bars was next and another steady rotation and although they scored slightly lower here than in qualification it was not by much. By the end of Rotation 3 Romania had finally caught up to the top three, after their poor start on bars, and pushed Canada into 5th place. With one more rotation to go, could Canada hold on to that impressive 5th place? It was on to beam and this was where they had posted the lowest scores in qualification. They did not have the same problems here though - they all posted steady scores and then waited while the other gymnasts finished competing. The final scores came in and Canada had managed to hold on to that 5th place. Not only had they achieved their goals by qualifying to the team final, they had surpassed them by finishing in 5th place, ahead of the rest of the pack who were all chasing the top four nations of USA, Russia, Romania and China. To put this 5th place finish into perspective, only 1 medal out of all 18 awarded in the women's gymnastics competition went to a country that was not one of those top four nations. To know that as a team they were closer to the top four than anyone else is an achievement indeed. This team of Elsabeth Black, Victoria Moors, Dominique Pegg, Brittany Rogers and Kristina Vaculik had given their all and must feel delighted and very proud of themselves, especially as this must have been a tough competition for them with one of their star gymnasts and their team captain, Peng Peng Lee, out with injury.
The achievements did not stop there though. Dominique Pegg qualified to the all around final where she gave a great account of herself and finished 17th overall. There were also two Canadians in the vault final. Unfortunately, Elsabeth was injured during her first vault and unable to finish competing but Brittany Rogers vaulted well to finish 7th.
This has been a really strong Olympic Games for the Canadian team and I am really looking forward to seeing much more of their beautiful and innovative work in the future.