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IG Interview: Charlotte Mackie (Canada)
(68 votes, average 4.90 out of 5)

Heading into the Canadian Championships, British Columbia's Charlotte Mackie spoke with IG about her immediate and long-term goals, her recent coaching change, older sister Gael and more.

Charlotte Mackie (Canada) at the 2008 Pacific Rim Championships

The 2005 novice national champion, Mackie is a favorite to win her first senior title at the Canadian Championships, which take place June 2-6 in Hamilton, Ont. She is the younger sister of 2003 Canadian champion Gael Mackie, a 2004 Olympian who now competes for the University of Utah.

Charlotte Mackie, who turns 16 on Oct. 6, is already a veteran of international competition, having won medals on four continents. In 2007, she won bronze medals at the Romanian International (all-around, balance beam and floor exercise), the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro (team) and the Japanese Junior International (vault and balance beam).

In 2008, she placed fourth all-around and second with the Canadian team at the Pacific Rim Championships in San Jose, Calif. Competing among the seniors, she was fourth at the Canadian Championships in Calgary and third at Elite Canada in Gatineau, Quebec.

In 2009, Mackie made her move to a new coaching environment. For most of her career, Mackie trained with coaches Vladimir and Svetlana Lashin at Omega Gymnastics. Since Feb. 19, Mackie has been training at Surrey Gymnastics Society with David Kenwright, who coached two-time Olympian Kate Richardson.

In March, Mackie made her senior debut at the Gymnix World Cup in Montreal, earning a complete set of medals: gold on vault, silver on floor exercise and bronze on balance beam. In April, she won another vault gold and floor exercise silver at the Wild Rose International in Edmonton, Alberta.

In this IG Online interview, Mackie opened up about adjusting to her new height, new surroundings and new outlook on the sport.

IG: How are you adjusting to your new gym and coaches?

CM: I'm adjusting really well! I love my new coaches and my new gym so much. It took about a month to adjust to a different atmosphere, conditioning, technique and coaching style. But it's an ongoing process, and I'm still continuously working on adjustments. The hours aren't too different, but I'm doing some early morning training before school, and the afternoon training sessions aren't quite so long.

My coaches really want to work on my athleticism, technical program and developing my potential as a truly artistic gymnast.

IG: Can you tell us what the reasons for the switch were?

CM: I switched clubs because I needed a different approach to coaching and training, a different coaching style. Although every coach who has worked with me has helped me in some way, I want to be able to love gymnastics for all of my life and hope to continue my elite career for another three or more years, or possibly longer.

IG: How was your first World Cup experience in Montreal?

CM: My first World Cup was awesome, I really enjoyed it! This was my first official competition as a senior. It was neat to interact with other gymnasts from other countries. I found the atmosphere at World Cup very friendly and fun!

Charlotte Mackie (Canada) at the 2008 Pacific Rim Championships

IG: Not many gymnasts have the two vaults needed to make finals. How much time do you spend working on your second vault?

CM: I usually spend time every week on my second vault, especially when I was first learning it. I am currently making modifications to it, so I do work on it every week, but not every day. I usually alternate vaults every second day of training.

IG: Where do you feel your current strengths and weaknesses are as a gymnast?

CM: I feel that my current strengths are having flexibility, artistry and pretty good leg strength. But my weakness is definitely upper body strength. Since I have moved to my new gym, I have focused much more on core and upper body strength. David and I are really focusing on conditioning. The other area of weakness was my bars. Since I started training with David, I have switched over to using grips. Previously, I was limited in the amount of bars training I could do, because of sore and ripped hands. I can now train longer hours on bars, and using different technique. It is a really slow process making the adjustment to grips, but it will be worth it in the long run, definitely.

IG: How have you modified your routines this year to go along with the changes to the Code of Points?

CM: I am really focusing on making my skills and routines cleaner. I am continuing to work on improved technique. This will improve my E score. I am also working on some skills with higher difficulty.

IG: Do you have any new skills or routines you're particularly excited about?

CM: I am really excited to perform my new floor routine and new beam routine. It will be really exciting when my new bar routine comes together, after working extremely hard on it! It is basically like I have relearned every skill in my bar routine, and have also learned a new mount, and new release move.

IG: What dream skill would you love to be able to do?

CM: I would love to increase the difficulty on every event, with harder skills. There are so many dream skills I'd love to do — basically any high difficulty skill! We are currently playing around with a few right now, but with this Code of Points, there isn't much benefit competing them until they are done very well.

IG: You're grown a lot since we first saw you as a junior. How tall are you now, and have you had to change any technique for your new height?

CM: Yes, I have grown six inches in less than two years! I had a big growth spurt one year ago, and lost some skills. Last summer and fall I worked really hard to relearn them again. Mostly, I've had to constantly adjust the technique as I grow but it is hardest when there is a big growth spurt. The biggest adjustment to growing for me has been on bars, adjusting the giants and other skills as my swinging length increased. I have long arms for my height, so I swing quite long on bars. With David, I have adjusted my giants technique again. But I think my growth into an "adult" gymnast has helped my vaulting, which has improved in the past couple of years.

IG: Your sister unfortunately struggled quite a bit with injuries during her elite career. Is this something you worry a lot about?

CM: I don't worry about it too much, just try to train carefully and keep strong, and catch little injuries before they become big. And sometimes injuries just happen. Gael worked so, so hard to make the Olympic team, she was on an accelerated training program, and pushed really hard to make the team when she was 15. It was really hard on her body. I haven't had the pressure of going senior and Olympics, so I could train at a more normal pace.

Charlotte Mackie (Canada) at the 2008 Pacific Rim Championships

IG: How often do you talk to your sister? What kind of advice does she give you, and what kind do you give her?

CM: I talk to my sister almost every day on Blackberry Messenger. If I don't hear from her, I know she has exams or a big paper to write! We don't really give each other advice that much, we are really close and like to talk. We are pretty normal outside the gym.

IG: Are you also thinking about doing college gymnastics down the line?

CM: I don't have plans to do college gymnastics, as yet. Right now, I am preparing for university in Canada, and doing well both academically and reaching my gymnastic goals.

IG: You looked very strong in 2008, on par with other gymnasts who competed in Beijing. What is your opinion about the age-limit rule? Do you think 14 or 15 year olds should be allowed to compete at worlds and Olympics?

CM: Of course, last year, in 2008, I wished I could have gone. But now that I really think about it, I would have been too young, and inexperienced. There would have been way more pressure and intense training and competition for the last three or four years. Now I think I'm lucky to be too young for 2008, because I still love gymnastics and still have goals ahead of me. I think the long training hours, constant pain and tiredness is hard on young kids. I had lots of challenges and got lots of experience from the junior meets I did.

Some of my favorite gymnasts competed and looked great at the Olympics when they were older than 19, like Kate Richardson, Svetlana Khorkina and Oksana Chusovitina. I think lowering the age-limit rule would not be good for the gymnasts physically or mentally.

IG: What are your goals for Canadian Nationals? What about the rest of 2009?

CM: My goals for nationals are to be consistent and clean with my routines. I hope to show good technique and artistry. I would love to be able to do my new bar routine, but we're unsure if it'll be ready for nationals. I also have a new floor routine I'm working on. Throughout the summer, I'll continue to work hard on my bars, and will polish my other routines and upgrade where I can.

In the fall, my goal is to make the Worlds team, and to compete my routines internationally to the best of my ability.

Comments (2)add comment

Christopher Scott said:

Christopher Scott
New national coach
Thank you for this interview. The timing is interesting in that Mackie's former coach was just named new Canadian head coach. Considering her answer "I want to be able to love gymnastics for all of my life" in regards to why she left that coach, I can't imagine how she feels about this. Great decision making Gymnastics Canada.
May 20, 2009
Votes: +9

Tracy Leipsic said:


I was so happy to see some Canadian content! We love this magazine in our home, but feel there is too much US content all the time. There are wonderful gymnasts all around the world.
May 27, 2009
Votes: +2

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