There was no mistaking the feeling of triumph that filled Isabela Onyshko after sticking the landing and closing out a flawless performance on the uneven bars in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday night. The 18 year old Manitoba gymnast was all smiles before the television cameras and the live audience on hand, a stark contrast to the steely-eyed determination and focus that is featured in most photos.
The Minnedosa-born Onyshko is competing in her first Olympic Games and on Saturday was declared by the National Post to be the Manitoba ‘underdog’ that could surprise the gymnastics field. Little more than 24 hours later, she was being heralded by the CBC broadcast team as “the rock and the star” of the Canadian Olympic team.
Isabela scored a 14.733 on the uneven bars, an event at which she has excelled in international competition. She won gold in the 2014 International Gymnix and repeated that achievement at the 2015 Ljubljana World Cup in this event. Her score put her team on track to secure a position in the top eight for a shot in the finals. However, misfortune struck when team mate Brittany Rogers, 23 year old New Westminster gymnast, fell during her routine. Rogers’ 14.2 score dropped the Canadian team to ninth place, excluded them from further competition.
Still, Onyshko’s performances on the Olympic stage have placed her in the top ten individually and she will compete in the all-around finals this week. For her family in attendance and her peers who were watching at home – including her fellow members at the Brandon Eagles Gymnastics club, it was an exciting debut on the world stage.
Onyshko, the first Manitoba gymnast to qualify for the Olympic team in 30 years, will take her shot at Olympic gold on Thursday afternoon and Manitoba is sure to be watching.