Hannah Metheral is jumping at the chance to represent her country on the world stage.
“It’s really cool,” said Metheral, a Regina-based gymnast. “Being able to go across the world and represent my country is the dream.
“It’s a really proud moment.”
Metheral, who trains out of Gymnastics Adventure in Regina, was recently named to Team Canada’s roster for the upcoming Trampoline Gymnastics World Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria from Nov. 16-19. Metheral will be one of four Canadian women in the double mini trampoline event. And while Metheral is ranked No. 2 among Canadian women, she will be going up against many of the top gymnasts from across the world. However, regardless of whom she’s competing against in Bulgaria, her goal remains the same.
“I just want to do the best routines that I can, land on my routines and see where I end up just because in an individual sport like gymnastics, you can’t control what other people do,” she said.
The World Championships have the makings to be a memorable event for Metheral, even if it’s not the first time she’s competed on the world stage. Along with attending a few World Cup events already this year, one of her career highlights is a fifth-place finish in the double mini trampoline event at World Age Group Championships, for gymnasts aged 11-21.
In 2019, as a member of Team Saskatchewan, she also won gold at the Canada Winter Games in synchronized trampoline. And in July of this year, she was crowned senior national champion, which led to her being selected for the world championships. That’s an accomplishment in itself considering she is still eligible for the age group championships.
“I’m younger than 21 so it’s cool to be there on the young side,” said Metheral.
And while double mini trampoline is now her specialty, that wasn’t always the case. When she was younger, she originally started in artistic gymnastics but didn’t love the balance beam.
“I knew I wanted to do flips and that’s all I knew I wanted to do,” she said.
Then, during a practice many years ago, Metheral remembers a coach coming over to her while on the vault bars, asking her if she wanted to try the trampoline.
“I think I was eight years old when that happened and it just kind of clicked,” she said.
So, for the next several years, Metheral focused on three events – tumbling, trampoline and double mini trampoline. However, double mini always seemed to be her best event, so after the fifth-place finish at the world age group championships, she made that her sole focus.
“My coach and I sat down and decided it seemed I had more of a future in double mini and I liked it more,” she said.
But it hasn’t always been easy. Working on new skills and moves can be challenging not only physically, but mentally.
“It comes with a lot of trust and bravery in myself to just (try) random skills and see what I can do,” she said. “Learning skills is a process and I think you have to be patient with yourself.
“I used to be really nervous to try new skills. As I’ve gotten older and better, I’ve improved my spatial awareness and trust in myself so trying new skills to me is no longer scary.”
Along with regular gym and mental coaching sessions, Metheral trains about eight hours per week at Gymnastics Adventure, a place that has always been a second home to her. In fact, since her grandmother Mary Lou Cooke was the original owner of the facility, Metheral spent many hours of her childhood there, paving the way for her to take a deep interest in the sport.
“I spent a lot of time with my grandma in the gym while she was coaching,” said Metheral. “That played a really big part in me wanting to do gymnastics for the rest of my life.”
And over the years, she also developed an affinity to the Olympics.
“I love the Olympics so much,” said Metheral. “I’ve probably watched almost every single event at every Olympics for my entire life.
“I always told my parents that I wanted to represent Canada. That’s all I’ve wanted to do.”
From early on in her career, she had other athletes showing her that with hard work and dedication, it could be possible to compete internationally. Metheral credits Dennis Oppenlander as being one of the first senior athletes she looked up to, as he attended the World Championships. Metheral also credits Danielle Grieve and Haley Nakonechni, whom she trained regularly with.
“It made it seem more possible to me,” she said. “I know these two girls and I can be just like them.
“That really pushed me further.”
Now, being one of only two senior double mini trampoline athletes in the province, Metheral, who is also a coach at the gym, is taking on that same leadership approach with the younger athletes at her gym, paving the way for the next gymnast to have world championship aspirations.
“I try to be the best role model that I can be in the gym because right now I’m the only senior athlete,” said Metheral. “It’s important for any young athlete to be able to see that.”