AJAX -- Ajax's Alexandra Landry is part of a pioneering group of young women in this country.
WHITBY -- Alexandra Landry, an Ajax resident and student at École Secondaire Catholique Saint-Charles-Garnier, is representing Canada at the London Olympics in rhythmic gymnastics. June 25, 2012.
Ryan Pfeiffer / Metroland
Landry, 18, and teammates Rose Cossar, Anjelika Reznik, Anastasiya Muntyanu, Kelsey Titmarsh and Katrina Cameron, will make up Canada's first team entry into Olympic rhythmic gymnastics when they compete at the London 2012 Games.
The six young women, who train together at the Kalev Rhythmic Gymnastic Centre in Vaughan, will face stiff competition in London, particularly from European powerhouses like Russia, Italy and Belarus, but they hope to being among the eight teams still standing on the final day.
"We're definitely looking forward to the experience, but we also have a goal set for us because we don't want to be known as a team that just went in as the wild card," says Landry, explaining that Canada earned one of the 12 team berths as a wild-card entry, representing North America. "We also want to go in and show the world that we're really good. We want to place top eight and to make the final at the Olympics. That's one of our goals going in."
Landry has been doing the sport since Grade 1, when she joined a fun after-school program, but it wasn't until just recently that she started thinking big and realizing it could indeed land her at the Olympics.
"I started thinking about it in 2010 when they made the team," says Landry, who moved over to the competitive Vaughan club in 2004. "We're the first team that qualified for Canada, ever, for rhythmic gymnastics. So, it wasn't really a goal for our country until we came along and started to do really well internationally."
The two biggest international highlights to date came at the 2011 Pan American Games in Mexico, where the team delivered two silver medals and a bronze, and the world championships in France, where they secured the Olympic berth.
Clinching an Olympic spot for Canada over the United States, in particular, was a moment Landry won't soon forget.
"We were sitting at the kiss-and-cry after our last routine and we competed after all the other teams from our continent, so when the scores were added up and everything, we actually saw that we qualified, we went crazy," Landry recalls. "We were all crying and hugging each other. It was really emotional."
Rhythmic gymnastics will be held on the final four days of the Olympics, Aug. 9-12, at Wembley Arena.