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Interview with Alexandra Orlando

“ Waiting for the World Championship ”

Alexandra Orlando is the Canadian National Champion since 2003. She won six golds at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, and three finals at the 2007 Pan American Games. Her most important appointment of the season is the World Championship in Patras in september, where she hopes to qualify for the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Ljubljana, 26th Agust 2007

Who she is

Name: Alexandra Orlando
Date of birth: 19/01/1987
Country: Canada
Student at university

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- First of all… nice to meet you Alexandra! Congratulations for your recent successes.

Thank you!

- What happened at the Pan American Games? Was it the first time you hadn´t a reserve apparatus?

It is bad luck for me to put a spare on the carpet so I usually never put one and it was just an accident, it has never happened to me before. The ribbon broke and I tried to finish but unfortunately they had to give me a zero for the all routine.

- Did you know you would get a zero for the routine?

No, I didn´t so I kept on going, I wanted to finish and see what happened. I was very lucky that I could compete in three finals. It was upsetting when I was there because I wanted to be in All-Around, but I´m just happy that it happened there and not at the World Championships. Everything happens for a reason.

- You usually seem very confident on the carpet. What´s your secret?

I love to perform, and I´m doing gymnastics and dancing since I was a little girl, I love to dance and I love having so much fun and I guess it comes across the audience and I forget about the competition and the results and just… have fun!

- Your big dream is to qualify for the Olympic games of Beijing. Do you think you lost an opportunity losing Pan American Games All Around?

I don´t think so. It doesn´t really matter. It´s just a World Championship yet to be top twenty in the world and hopefully right now it looks pretty good, I feel very confident, we´re going on to clean up the routines… It should be ok!

- How did you start Rhythmic Gymnastics?

I started in ballet when I was four years old and I was very flexible so my teacher recommended that I tried Gymnastics and then I just loved it.

- And when did you understand you like Rhythmic Gymnastics so much?

It is very different from any other sports that I tried; it´s dance and gymnastics, combined with the apparatus and I love it. I´ve never experienced anything like that before.

- Can you describe your typical day? How many hours do you train per day?

I wake in the morning and I go to school for five hours, then I go the gym for four hours, and then I usually do ballet and also school-work. It´s a lot of driving form school and gym, back to school… It´s a very busy day.

- How do you cope trainings with university?

It´s difficult but my university understands how much I train and how much I travel. My teachers work with me and I have internet when I go to Europe, it´s very good.

- And with private life? I read the message you left last year on www.eliterg.com you wrote that "you lost friends along the way that just couldn´t understand and support what you were doing".

Yes… When I was younger, my friends wanted to go out after school and they wanted to go to parties and I couldn´t do that… I told so many "I can´t go". Some people just don´t understand and the commitment and the love you have for something. So there is some kind of distance.

- Do you have a boyfriend?

Yes, I do, back home.

- You have Italian relatives, did you visit Italy sometimes?

I went last summer for vacations for two weeks. I have many Italian relatives, my family is from the South. My mother is from Salerno, and my father is Sicilian. They all live there still, just my family lives in Canada.

- Who´s your favourite gymnast? Of the past of present?

Oh, that´s so hard. Right now it´s Anna Bessonova from Ukraine, I think she´s beautiful and I love to be able to compete and train beside her.

- How is the relationship with your coach, Masleva?

Very good! She´ve been my coach from seven years now, so she coached me since I was a little girl to now, so I grown up with her.

- Do you take part at the choice of music and the creation of the routines?

Yes, my coach and I work together and we create something very unique for myself.

- The style of your routines seems to prefer artistic than difficulty. Is it a choice?

Yes, I think it´s my strength to play with the crowd and the judges, it´s my personality. We try to create routines with different music and different style, so it is something you don´t see from everyone.

- Which routines you like most at the moment?

Ribbon… today not so much, but ribbon!

- You must do long travels to come to Europe to compete. Do you ever train in Europe?

I train in Europe very often. When I come to Europe to compete I usually stay inbetween competitions and train in Russia or Bulgaria. Canada is a long trip from Europe so we stay here for many weeks at a time.

- How is the situation of RG in your country? Is there a national training centre for individuals?

Rhythmic Gymnastic is not very popular in Canada, but we have been receiving much more support from the government lately. As of now there is no national training center, but hopefully in a few years there will be.

- Are there competitions for clubs in Canada?

Yes we have many competitions within the country and we have many clubs. Canada is a very large country so we have gymnasts living and training all over.

- How was the experience of co-writing a book (“In pursuit of victory”)?

It was very exciting. I am a very modest person and it was hard to talk about myself, but it was an amazing experience. I loved hearing what everyone else had to say and I think it made Canadians more aware of Rhythmic Gymnastics in our country.

- Did your popularity raise up in Canada after your six golds at the Commonwealth Games and after the book?

I definitely think it did. People began to notice our sport and appreciate it more afterwards.

- Which was the best experience in sport and which was the worst moment?

The best experience has been the Commonwealth Games. It was such an honour to hear my national anthem being played and six times! I broke a world record for my sport and the commonwealth games, which I never thought I would ever accomplish. It was the highlight of my career. The worst moment was missing the 2004 Olympic Games by one spot. That was very difficult for me, I was very young and very disappointed. But I am glad that I continued competing and am only now reaching my potential in this sport.

- What do you think about the development of code of points? Do you have ideas/suggestions for the future?

I think that the new changes to the code of points are very good, but it would help all the gymnasts if they didn't change so often. I wish there was more beauty in the sport like it used to be and more points for originality and risky moves. The sport changes so much every few years so it will be interesting to see what happens.

- Have you already plans after you gymnastic career? Do you think you´ll do anything related with Gymnastics?

I am definitely going to coach when I retire from competing, but not for my career. I plan on finishing University and going to law school. I still want to be very involved with sports and the sporting community in Canada though.

A. Favarato

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