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Gymnast unveils new skill

What’s in a name? For Marisa Dick of St. Albert it’s her signature mount on beam in the Code of Points, a rulebook that defines the scoring system for each level of competition in gymnastics.
SKILL SETTER – Marisa Dick
SKILL SETTER – Marisa Dick

What’s in a name? For Marisa Dick of St. Albert it’s her signature mount on beam in the Code of Points, a rulebook that defines the scoring system for each level of competition in gymnastics.

The “Marisa Dick” was unveiled by the Trinidad and Tobago gymnast at the recent world championships in Glasgow, Scotland.

“Every skill that’s in the Code of Points has been named after someone else so just to think that my name will forever be in gymnastics and in the Code of Points is really exciting,” said Dick of the switch split to free split sit that was assigned a C value.

“I take off on one leg on the spring board and then I do a switch split and then I land on the beam in the splits with no hands. That’s how I get on the beam to start my routine,” Dick explained. “It’s hard because you start on the side of the beam so you have to launch yourself sideways enough but not too much and you also have to get enough height so you can finish the split and land on the beam.”

The Ortona Gymnastics Club performer spent several months perfecting the skill before worlds after testing it out a few years ago.

“I was working on the split jump mounts, when you take off on two feet on the board and then land in the splits, so when I was at Capital City (Gymnastics Centre) I tried it for the first time and it just worked out and then I switched here to Ortona and I didn’t work on it for a while and then I just said to my coach, ‘Why don’t I try it from a switch split?’ We just kept working it and since it wasn’t in the Code of Points I could get that skill named after myself,” Dick said. “I was doing 20 a day. Some days I would make 19 out of 20 and then other days it would be two out of 20.”

Dick, 18, waited until worlds before attempting the skill in competition.

“It’s a new skill and you don’t want somebody else seeing it and then saying, ‘Maybe I want to try and get that named after me as well,’ so it was kind of a secret.”

Dick was feeling the pressure to pull off the new skill level on the world stage.

“There was always a chance that I could’ve fallen. You have to land it perfectly for it to be named after yourself so when I landed it I was like, ‘Oh my God, I landed it! Yeah! Now I have to do the rest of the routine,’” said the 74th-place gymnast in the beam event. “It wasn’t my best. I was really nervous and I think that’s just because I landed my mount so I was kind of shaken up at the beginning of my routine but I stayed on but I was a little bit wobbly.”

Dick finished 77th all-around out of 192 females at worlds.

“It went pretty well. It was a lot of fun. It was a really great experience in my second worlds. It’s just such a cool experience to be out there on the floor with so many great gymnasts and just to do well and hit all my four routines,” said Dick, who placed 50th all-around at the 2013 worlds in Antwerp, Belgium. “I did get injured the day before in training, I dislocated my rib but stuff like that happens, so my bars was pretty good but I would say my beam was the best just because I did go in with the goal of accomplishing that mount and making it named after me.”

Dick, who has dual Canadian/Trinidad citizenship, and teammate Thema Williams, who placed 59th all-around at worlds, will compete for a spot at the April test event in Rio de Janeiro. It’s part of the qualification process for the Rio 2016 Olympics and will determine which countries can send full teams of gymnasts as well as which countries qualify to send individual gymnasts to the Olympics.

The Rio hopefuls have meets on tap in February at Texas and March at Montreal.

“Whoever does the best and has the most consistent scores gets to go to the test event,” Dick said of the competition with Williams, who recently moved to the United States to train. “It’s tough because you know achieving your dream might crush someone else’s but it’s one of those things. If you want it bad enough there are just things you have to do and I know she feels the same way. I would be happy for her if she made it but I would be crushed just because it’s something I’ve thought about for a long time.

“I was like four when I said, ‘Mom, I want to go to the Olympics,’ but it was when I started competing for Trinidad that I realized that goal can be accomplished but it’s a really hard process. It’s not easy to achieve. It takes a lot of dedication and a lot of hours you put in daily just to try to make that dream come true.”

Dick trains five days a week and four and a half hours per session.

“Every day in the gym you come in and you think about that goal and that makes you want to work harder,” said the 14th all-around gymnast at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto. “I will be adding new skills and trying to perfect those so they can be added into my routines to make them more difficult. There will also be a lot more repetition just to make sure everything is perfect because you are competing against someone else. It’s now between the two of us to see who is chosen so you want to go to those meets and be able to do your routine in your sleep perfectly.”

The Paul Kane High School graduate has also been upgrading in preparation for SAT exams in January while pursing a college scholarship in the United States.

Dick is also in the running for the People’s Choice Athlete of the Year Award through the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee. Visit to vote.

Jeff Hansen

About the Author: Jeff Hansen

Jeff Hansen joined the St. Albert Gazette in 1991. He writes about sports, athletes and teams from St. Albert and area.
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