Sport

Canadian-born gymnast lives the Jamaican dream

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, November 03, 2017

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Having watched the spectacular display by Jamaica's track and field athletes and lone gymnast Toni-Ann Williams at last year's Rio Olympics, Mackenzie Robinson's heart reached out for a piece of the Jamaican experience.

By virtue of her grandparents' Jamaican roots, the Canadian-born gymnast achieved her goal earlier this year when she qualified for Team Jamaica at the United Winterfest meet in Maryland in January, where she placed second all around.

But the 16-year-old's first official assignment sporting the black, green and gold saw her placing first overall at the Caribbean Championship in Barbados a few months later.

Such was her dexterity that she was the lone Jamaican female in action at the recent Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Montreal, Canada, after the United States-based Williams pulled out due to illness.

She was accompanied by the male team of Reiss Beckford, Caleb Faulk, Stephen Lewis, Nicholas Tai, and Daniel Williams, who all produced creditable performances.

Prior to that, Robinson placed second all around in the Eastern Canadian Championships, and first in one of her areas of specialty — the floor. She also enjoys the vault.

Now on the path to success as one of Jamaica's budding gymnasts, Robinson is in a happy place doing what she loves, while representing a country that she has a high regard for.

“When I was younger I was always energetic, so my parents enrolled me in gymnastics at the age of three and my passion for the sport grew from there.

“But my passion grew even stronger when I was watching the 2016 Olympic Games and I noticed athletes born in other countries that were proudly representing Jamaica. So right then, I thought there was an opportunity to take all of my hard work and training and represent Jamaica with honour on the world stage,” Robinson told the Jamaica Observer from her home in Ontario, Canada, on Monday.

“And now that I am a part of Team Jamaica, the spectators, my family and the team members I have met have made it an extremely enjoyable and encouraging experience. So it is indeed a great honour for me,” she added.

Though she was not among the top performers at the recent World Championships, the taste of international competition has left Robinson yearning for more. Unflinching in her desire, she remains resolute in her press toward the goal to make it big for Jamaica.

But for now, her next assignment will be at the Jamaica Gymnastic Association's three-day Jamaica Classic, scheduled for this weekend at the National Indoor Sports Centre.

Robinson, who trains at the Oakville Gymnastics Club in Ontario, is eager to share her wealth of knowledge and experience with her junior peers locally and from the region.

“I am very proud of how I competed and placed on my very first appearance on the world stage. So I am really excited to come back to Jamaica and inspire younger athletes in the sport.

“So I am very much looking forward to it; my expectations are to enjoy the event, connect with some of the younger athletes and talk to them about my experiences,” Robinson noted.

After that, the motivated, focused and talented Robinson will be heading back to the field to continue her conditioning, strength and endurance training with her eyes firmly set on making next year's Commonwealth Games team to Gold Coast, Australia.

Like every individual in their respective field of endeavour, Robinson is optimistic of obtaining that one award which is considered the epitome of recognition and success, and for her that is a coveted gold medal.

“I would definitely love to represent Jamaica at the Commonwealth (Games) and hopefully from there, I will have the opportunity to represent again at the 2020 Olympics. But for now I will continue to work hard and remain focused and once the opportunity presents itself, I will take it with both hands and give it my best shot,” the cheerful Robinson ended.

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