Canadian-born Smith expresses Irish pride in Worlds debut
DOHA: Canadian-born Irish gymnast Meaghan Smith is a relative newcomer to international competition, but her motivation and pride extend as deep as her Irish roots.
Smith’s journey to the 48th FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships, which will begin here on October 25, began three years ago when she pondered her lineage and her competitive future.
“My gymnastics career in Canada was kind of over,” Smith told www.worldgymdoha18.com after Saturday’s training session at Aspire Dome. “I was at the senior level, but I wasn’t at the top, so I knew I wouldn’t be going to international events, and I wanted that opportunity. I’m also proud to be Irish, so we thought, ‘Hey, I can compete for Ireland.’”
Smith, whose maternal grandmother is Irish, contacted a club that welcomed her to become a member. She made her international debut for Ireland at this summer’s European Championships in Glasgow, Scotland.
The chance to extend her career on behalf of Ireland gave the 20-year-old a fresh incentive to work towards her potential.
“Now, I have a goal. I have things to look forward to like the World Championships,” she said. “I know they are on my calendar, so when I’m in the gym, I think, ‘OK, how can I be better, how can I improve for this competition?’ And, I love the sport. I didn’t want to give it up. I wanted to keep going.”
Smith hopes that her performance will put her in contention for the 24-gymnast All-around final here, and one competition closer to qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
“It’s a good chance for me to get experience on the world stage,” she said. “My goal is to do a clean all-around. If I do that, the scores will reflect that, and hopefully I will get as close as possible to the All-around final.” (Pic credit: Gymnastics Ireland Twitter)