While people at home will be turning the clock back an hour this weekend, a trio of local athletes will be springing forward to Bulgaria to represent Canada on the world stage.
For Tamara O’Brien, Kyle Carragher and Jared Khalifa, next week’s journey will also feature intense competition, as the TAG Sports Centre threesome look to test their mettle at trampoline and tumbling’s World championships and World Age Group competitions.
A member of Team Canada for the past six years, O’Brien has a lengthy resume of foreign competitions to measure her goals and progress with. But helping Canada defend its senior world title — as a first-year member of that senior squad — is a target that remains tied to having a good competition, she said.
“There is a lot of expectations going into a meet like this, but dealing with the pressure is 90 per cent mental and 10 per cent physical,” said the Coquitlam native, who will celebrate her 17th birthday in Bulgaria next week. “I’m just so excited and blessed to be representing Canada, just really thrilled to be able to compete at a meet of this calibre.”
Having made her world age group debut six years ago, O’Brien brings a level of knowledge and experience that both Carragher and Khalifa can envy. While she will be competing in the double-mini at the senior worlds, past achievements will definitely provide some of the fodder.
However, she points out that while the competition gets tougher, her focus is on her own routine — which is also continuously getting ramped up.
“For me, it’s not about watching others around me, but I just have to stay positive and remember my preparation... My routine is getting tougher but I’m in a good place right now,” noted the Grade 12 Centennial student.
A year ago, she won the Indo-Pacific double-mini title in Australia. To go the next step and earn a spot on the Canadian senior team — while eyeing a spot at the 2016 Olympic Games — was part of a rich and gruelling process.
“It definitely makes me want more,” she said of her past accomplishments. “I’m not going to say I don’t know what to expect, but every competition is new.
“You want to reach the next level and do your best at all times.”
For PoCo’s Carragher, being part of Canada’s World Age Group team is nothing new.
However, he heads to the event having qualified in all three events — trampoline, tumbling and double-mini — a rare feat on the international circuit.
“It’s the first time for me in all three, so I’m aiming to just do my absolute best,” remarked the 16-year-old Riverside student. “Tumbling and double-mini are definitely my strengths but I’ve put a lot of work into my trampoline and I’ve improved a lot in the past year.”
At the same Indo-Pacific meet last year, he topped his division’s tumbling competition and placed second in double-mini. The former artistic gymnast expects to absorb as many things from the Bulgaria meet as possible.
“Since this is my first world age group in all three events I want to do my best possible — if I get on the podium, all the better.”
Making his world age group debut is Khalifa, a 16-year-old Vancouverite.
Since making the transition from artistic gymnastics to trampoline and tumbling eight years ago, the aim has been to touch the highest peaks in the sport. Bulgaria represents the first of hopefully many.
“I love trampoline,” the McGee Secondary student said. “When I first tried it I thought this was where I was meant to be.”
Both O’Brien and Carragher have shared their international experiences and observations, which Khalifa said will help him shake off some of the nervousness he anticipates to arise as he stands before a large, foreign crowd.
“They are both such great teammates and training partners that I really feel comfortable making this move,” he said. “We’re there for each other, to provide motivation and a healthy rivalry.
“They’ve told me that it’s going to be a lot bigger than I could imagine.”
Also going, as a coach for Canada’s world age group team, is TAG’s Barb Fraser.
She is extremely pleased for the three and expects them to focus on their individual performances.
“There’s a lot of pressure going into this competition, both at Tamara’s (senior worlds) and Kyle and Jared’s (world age group) events,” said Fraser. “With Canada the defending champion there is a lot of pressure going in, so [O’Brien] has done a lot of work, worked through a foot injury to earn this spot.
“Both Tamara and Kyle bring past experience with them but each competition increases in difficulty. They have a lot of experience but it doesn’t make it easier.”
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