Jan. 11, 2012
LONDON, England - Kristina Vaculik, a Stanford gymnast taking a year off from school in an effort to qualify for the 2012 Olympics, achieved her goal on Wednesday by helping Canada advance to the London Games during an Olympic Qualifying Test Event.
Canada was among eight competing for the final four team spots. The top eight placers at October's World Championships in Tokyo advanced automatically, but the next eight were given a last-chance opportunity. The competition is being held at the Olympic venue -- the North Greenwich Arena. Because other teams were continuing to compete after Canada had finished, Canada's place had not been finalized. But the Canadians already had clinched a berth.
Gymnastics Canada still must name a final team to compete at the Olympics and, barring injury, Vaculik stands an excellent chance to be part of it.
Vaculik, one of seven team members, tied for Canada's best score on the uneven bars (14.33). The native of Whitby, Ontario, is a two-time Canadian all-around champion and captured four titles in the 2010 national championships. She excelled at the 2011 Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, placing second on the balance beam, third all-around and fourth in floor exercise. She also has competed in two World Championships.
As a Stanford freshman last spring, Vaculik competed in all four events - in nine of 11 meets on the bars, five each on the beam and floor, and twice on vault. She achieved scores of at least 9.825 points (out of 10) in each.
Vaculik's season-high score came at the NCAA Ann Arbor Regional when she scored 9.875 to place third on the bars.
Vaculik and her younger sister, Natalie, were part of a training camp in Quebec to determine the Canadian team, but an injury prevented Natalie from fully participating.
When Vaculik returns to Stanford for the 2013 collegiate season, she should be one of three Olympians on the roster - joining current sophomore Shona Morgan of Australia and freshman Rebecca Wing of Great Britain. Both competed at the 2008 Beijing Games.
Stanford has a history of ties to the Canadian national team. Two-time Canadian national champion Alyssa Brown, a Stanford senior captain, was an alternate in Beijing. And Heather Purnell, who competed at Stanford from 2006-09, competed for Canada at the 2004 Athens Games.
Olympic women's gymnastics competitions will take place from July 29-Aug. 7.