Reaching for the sky
Bachelor of Commerce student jumps higher and faster at the World Tumbling and Trampoline Championships
Ryan Sheehan takes a deep breath before making the first of two passes on the double mini-trampoline at the 2014 World Tumbling and Trampoline Championships in Daytona Beach. Then, the fourth-year Bachelor of Commerce student takes his first running step directly toward a larger-than-life version of himself on a huge screen straight ahead. Even as he catches glimpses of himself running on another screen out of the corner of his left eye and the crowd of 1,500 spectators out of the corner of his right, he doesn’t let nerves get in his way.
After all, this may be his first time as a senior at the World Championships, but competition is old hat for the 20-year-old. Ryan went to his first national competition half a lifetime ago at age 10, and began competing as part of Team Canada on the international stage just four years later.
Those international experiences—several trips to Europe, South America and Mexico—not only fuelled his love of his sport, they also inspired his choice of major. “I love to travel and it’s piqued my interest in international business. There’s something appealing about setting my sights beyond Canada and into the bigger world.”
But before he starts his career in international business, he has final exams to write and another semester of balancing his coursework with a 15-hour-a-week gymnastics training schedule, conditioning and strength training, plus 10 hours a week of coaching. It isn’t always easy, but Ryan says that alternative isn’t an option.
“Last year was a rough year, so I had to decide if I should move on, but the thought of not having gymnastics in my life felt so much scarier than trying to get back into it—the idea of giving it up felt almost like losing a family member.”
So Ryan works on being organized and staying on top of his assignments. “I try to plan my class schedule carefully and on the first day of classes, I’m checking my syllabuses the second I get them to see how they’ll work around competitions.”
Those competitions ramp up again in February, starting with Provincials and leading up to the World Championships again in November.
Back at the 2014 World Championships in Daytona Beach, Ryan ended up in 19th place—around the middle of the pack on a list of the world’s best—and says he’s happy with that.
“I’ve been working toward competing as a senior for so long—I’ve competed at the World Championships as a junior four times—and to finally be there was an awesome experience. I had a really good first half and just did okay on the second half, but I’m happy with how it went. Now that I’ve competed with the greatest trampoline athletes in the world, I know exactly what I need to do for next year. This is just the beginning for me.”
And with the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro less than two years away, you can’t help but wonder if Ryan is hoping to head south. “I think everyone who does an Olympic sport has it in the back of their minds all the time, but it’s hard to tell. I would love to be there, but a lot can happen in two years.”
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