Canada's MacLennan wins Pan Am women's trampoline title, Soehn takes men's gold

TORONTO — Few athletes had higher expectations entering the Pan Am Games than Canadian trampolinist Rosie MacLennan.

She entered the women's final as the reigning Pan Am and Olympic champion. She had the pressure of performing in front of a packed venue in her home city. MacLennan was also recovering from a mild concussion and didn't know if she'd be able to compete until a few days before the event.

When her name was called Sunday night at the Toronto Coliseum, MacLennan put the distractions aside and focused on her routine. She delivered yet another golden performance.

MacLennan successfully defended her Pan Am title and teammate Karen Cockburn joined her on the podium with a third-place effort. Later in the evening, Keegan Soehn of Red Deer, Alta., defended his men's title to make it a three-medal evening for Canada.

MacLennan suffered a mild concussion just over three weeks ago after a fall while training. She experienced some headaches, light-headedness and dizziness but showed steady improvement ahead of the Games.

She later received clearance to compete and the final decision to remain in the competition was made Wednesday.

"I was able to get back up and do what I had to do," MacLennan said.

The near-capacity crowd was in raucous form as soon as the gymnasts came out for introductions at the 6,200-seat venue. MacLennan struggled in the qualification round a day earlier and had to start third out of the eight athletes in the final.

She posted a score of 53.560 and then waited to see if it would hold. Cockburn was the last one up and when she finished third with 51.560 points, the celebration was on.

MacLennan started jumping up and down once her teammate finished. They hugged and then returned to the trampoline together to wave to the crowd and take in the moment.

"It's something we've dreamed about and talked about but nothing really matches that experience," MacLennan said. "It was pretty incredible and a huge honour."

Cockburn suffered a serious ankle injury last fall and only had her cast removed in February — less than six months before the Games.

"A few months ago I didn't think I'd be here," she said. "And then a medal I thought would have been a longshot. So to get on the podium is amazing."

Soehn gave the crowd one last highlight with a strong performance that left him nearly a full point ahead (56.405) of American Steven Gluckstein (55.595). Colombia's Angel Hernandez took the bronze (55.190).

"It's been a lot of leadup coming into this," Soehn said. "Everybody knew I was defending champion, so I really wanted to give out a good show and I ended up pulling it off. So it feels great."

Jason Burnett of Nobleton, Ont., finished fourth. Dafne Navarro Loza of Mexico won the women's silver (52.000).

MacLennan took almost two weeks off after suffering the concussion, caused when she over-rotated a skill during a practice session.

"It was mild, it shouldn't have happened but it does," she said.

MacLennan said she was "pretty devastated" when she realized her Pan Am appearance was in jeopardy. She thanked her "incredible team" for getting her back in form.

"Every day was a decision," she said. "I had timelines of when I had to do my routines by and I met all of those. But every day we wanted to make sure that we weren't going to be putting my safety at risk.

"So every day I was getting assessed and making sure I didn't have any more symptoms."

The injury and lack of training time prevented MacLennan from performing her most difficult routine.

In a sport that features jumps, flips, twists and tucks, timing and balance is everything. So MacLennan stuck with a routine that gave her confidence and comfort.

"She's worked so hard and she wanted to be here so badly," Cockburn said. "I just really wanted her to make it through. It was nice that she did."

The Canadian Press