Samantha Sendel chose an opportune time to deliver a personal best performance when she soared to a silver medal finish at the recent World Age Group Gymnastics championships in Quebec City.
The 16-year-old trampolinist, competing in the province of her birth in front of her mother and grandmother, came through with a score of 35.5, while facing the highest degree of difficulty at 13.6 of any female competitor under 19. A native of Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Sendel’s second-place finish came in the individual trampoline under-17 event, entering the final round as the last Canadian hope for a medal.
“I just wanted to do my routines as well as I could,” she said of her performance, reminiscent of a silver medal-winning effort at the World Age Group Championships four years ago in Germany. “I felt a bit more pressure [being at home], but everyone was really supportive so that takes a bit of the pressure off as well.”
She pulled off a triple front flip, known as a Triffus, in posting a score that would have also resulted in a second-place finish in the under 19 category.
At the last competition two years ago, nobody from Canada finished in the top six.
“Once you get to a certain level of difficulty, she is much more brave than most kids and that has helped her learn advanced skills,” said coach Dave Ross, who trains Sendel, as well as the Canadian national team at Skyriders in Richmond Hill. “She’s got confidence in her ability and her scores are already number four in Canada.”
The Aurora resident credits her success to a lot of hard work. She does her routines every day, practicing all the skills five to six times a week, while exercising at the gym up to 10 hours weekly
For good luck, Sendel takes her giant gorilla slippers and a gold medal from the 2002 Ontario Winter Games on the road to competitions. The slippers were a gift from Dad four years ago, while the medal came in a team trampoline event.
While still too young to compete at the senior level internationally, Sendel is targeting the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England as a long-term goal. She expects to begin training as a member of the senior Canadian team sometime in the new year, but is not eligible to participate at next summer’s Olympics in Beijing.
“It’s a dream of mine to go to the Olympics,” she said. “Hopefully, all goes well.”