By Dan Plouffe
When Taysia Thompson’s turn came at the July 24-28 Canadian Trampoline Championships in Oshawa, she was set to attempt the most difficult routine of her career. She’d never before actually completed the 10 jumps without crashing, having to stop, or downgrading a planned skill – not once.
“I never finished it in practice, I never finished it when we got to Oshawa in the training gym, I didn’t finish it in my warm-up before competition,” details the 24-year-old who nevertheless decided to go for broke and shoot for a degree of difficulty that would put her on par with many of the very best senior women in Canada and the world.
“The way we thought about it was: if I was going to fail at something, I may as well fail at the big one,” she explains. “So I just went for it, and it worked. It was the biggest routine I’d literally ever done, and I got to do it on the judges’ floor. It was great.”
It wasn’t the prettiest routine possible, but Thompson had no qualms about finishing 7th overall.
“It was a really good feeling to finally be like, ‘Alright, I’m getting on their level,’” indicates Thompson, who, just 2 months earlier, had to stop mid-performance at the Elite Canada meet in Calgary when she was battling a damaged and displaced disk in her back.
The Tumblers Gymnastics Centre athlete credits a positive mindset and being able to channel her adrenaline in the big moment for the unlikely success.
She listened to her coach Yann Prigent, who’d told her she was capable of completing her routine since she’d performed all the skills on their own, just not together.
“It was amazing, what else can I say?” Thompson smiles.
The feeling wasn’t unlike when she first went to the Tumblers club as an 11-year-old and spotted the trampoline. Thompson started in gymnastics when she was 18 months, and was in a competitive artistic gymnastics stream come age 5.
“But that day I went home and I said, ‘Mom, all I want to do is bounce on the trampoline,’” recalls Thompson, whose first coach was an international champion for Canada, Dave Sabourin.
She later followed Prigent for a 10-year stint on the Quebec side, which has now come “full-circle” with a return to Tumblers. On the way, there was an appearance at the 2013 World Age Group Championships in Bulgaria and a 2014 Canadian title at home in Ottawa in the national open category (a step below the high-performance level).
But most important was the daily routine and total commitment the Gloucester High School grad developed towards living a healthy lifestyle and trying to be the best she could be.
Many drop competitive sport beyond high school age, and fewer still shoot for the highest levels of amateur sport after they’ve begun working full-time. But trampoline continues to guide the course of Thompson’s adult life.
Each weekday starts at 4 a.m. when she gets up to walk her dog. Then it’s off to work for her 6 a.m.-2 p.m. shift as the gym manager at the Fairmont Château Laurier. The Blackburn Hamlet resident heads straight to Tumblers for 2+ hours of training after work, and then she’ll work out and lift more weights on her own afterwards.
Thompson is engaged to an air force technician who’d normally be asked to move around more frequently, but has managed to keep his post in Ottawa longer than usual because of his fiancée’s devotion to her sport.
“It goes to show that trampoline is in every aspect of my life,” highlights Thompson, who’s been supported every step of the way by her mom and grandma too. “It’s in my relationships, my work – everything.”
It’s also led her to participate in fitness competitions, where she’s also found piles of success and travelled to events in places like Miami and Las Vegas.
“Trampoline is like my meal – my breakfast, lunch and dinner. Fitness is like that cake that you get at the end, though I guess not in a literal sense,” laughs Thompson, who proudly shares that she’s never had alcohol, cigarettes or marijuana.
Thompson got into fitness competitions through Tumblers women’s artistic coach Vanda Hadarean, who puts on shows locally.
“It keeps me in shape and comes in handy for trampoline,” notes the 2019 Fitness Universe runner-up. “It helps me when it comes to competitions. It takes a lot mentally to get up on stage in a very small bikini and high heels in front of a panel of judges who are very literally judging you for how you look.”
Thompson’s dedication is certainly fuelled in part by a big dream that was born in 2008 while watching Karen Cockburn win a silver medal for Canada in Beijing.
“In a best-case scenario situation, I’d like to be at the Olympics,” Thompson says of her long-term objectives.
It’s a daunting goal – particularly when battling Canadians for Olympic berths means challenging the best in the world – but “I believe in the power of positivity,” underlines Thompson, who knows full well a moment like she lived at nationals can indeed come to life. “If I play my cards right, if I keep at it and stay consistent and do what I’ve done and then some, I think it’s absolutely possible.”