This past March, Canada's rhythmic gymnastics team had a fantastic showing at the Pacific Rim Championships held in Everett, Washington and took home the silver medal! The top three junior and senior gymnasts from across the nation were picked to compete against powerhouse teams China, USA and Australia. In the junior category, Patricia Bezzoubenko (Toronto), Alexandra Fomina (Montreal) and Kiah Ward (Vernon), all just 15 years old, participated alongside seniors Maria Kitkarska (Montreal), Nerissa Mo (Vancouver) and Jessica Ho (Vancouver).
Competing with apparatuses ranging from ribbons to hoops, all the gymnasts showed the world that Team Canada can definitely compete against the best teams in the world. Youthink caught up with 18-year-old Team Canada member Nerissa Mo to chat about the Pacific Rim Championships experience, how she got into gymnastics and the teams's hopes for the World Championships.
YT: Can you describe the emotions of the team on the first day of the Championships?
NM: Oh, I think everyone was pretty nervous. China was there, Australia was there, New Zealand was there, so it was a pretty intense atmosphere. Everyone was pretty nervous there, but it was fun to meet the people.
YT: Did you talk to any other teams?
NM: We talked to USA a lot because we travel with them sometimes to other international competitions. We also talked to Australia, I’ve been in a couple competitions there too. They are all very friendly... we get along very well.
YT: How has your team grown from your last event?
NM: We are actually from different provinces, so we had to split up back to our hometowns but we are just training at home and the next competition we meet will be nationals where we are going to be competing against each other, not as a team.
YT: Although you are a team, you also compete against each other at competitions. What is that like?
NM: We are very good friends but I think most of us are pretty competitive and we are different on the competition floor than we are when we are just talking to each other. We are pretty serious when we are competing.
YT: As one of the senior members of the team, do you feel you need to take on more of a leadership role?
NM: It's always harder to be looked up to. I try to set a good example for all the girls in my club just by respecting everyone. People look up to that, and [parents] always go up to me and they’re like, "My daughter looks up to you." That always makes me feel good.
YT: How did you get into rhythmic gymnastics and what is the toughest part about learning this sport?
NM: I think mental preparation is very tough. You have flexibility and you can work towards it, but mental preparation is all about you. But as for how I got into it, my mom actually signed me up for a community recreational program. One of the coaches saw me and thought I had potential so she picked me and she just started coaching me and that’s how I started.
Image credit: LA Lights | Nerissa Mo performing a
routine at the LA Lights competition.
YT: What are some of your biggest accomplishments so far as a gymnast?
NM: I have been to a couple of competitions. I've been to Worlds, and I've been national champion for Canada a bunch of years. In junior, I believe I was national champion for three years and my first year in senior, I won that title too.
YT: How will you be spending your time this summer?
NM: Summer is actually when we start learning new elements and doing new tricks, so we will be spending the time training. We have long hours every week learning new things and trying to improve our flexibility.
YT: What are your goals for competing at the 2012 World Championships?
NM: I think we want to do better than we did last time. It's really hard because we compete against Olympians and European clubs, and they train so much, but I think I want to represent Canada really well. Just go out there and do our best!