Cathy Giancaspro: a look back at 1985
Cathy Giancaspro was 14 when she competed in her first world championships in Montreal in 1985. Three years later, she was the first female gymnast in the history of Quebec to compete in an Olympic Games, in Seoul. Today, almost two decades after retiring from competitive gymnastics, Cathy is still an inspiration to many Canadian athletes.
- Tell us about how you started out in gymnastics.
I was the seventh child of eight siblings. At the age of five, I watched one of my older sisters, Giovanna, practicing cartwheels and started doing them on my own. Giovanna said she was impressed by my capacity to mold my body like a human pretzel, and decided to bring me to the local gymnastics club, Gymnix.
- What is your greatest memory of the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Montréal in 1985?
My favorite memory of the 1985 World Championships is the fact that it was in “my backyard”! I had my whole family (I have eight siblings), friends and community there! There was a complete section of seats filled by people I knew.
- Montréal will host the championships for the second time in its history in October 2017. It’s rare for Canadian gymnasts to compete in front of their home crowd. What was it like to take part in a competition of this stature in front of your family, friends and fans?
Competing at a World Championships is quite an exciting and exhilarating experience. It’s what athletes strive to accomplish in their careers, to be among the best gymnasts in the world. So many years of hard work and sacrificing are what you go through to be among the world’s best. I was proud, and felt even more pressure to make my country and city proud too! I appreciated everyone that came to watch and cheer. I loved representing my country at home in Montréal.
- How has gymnastics evolved since 1985?
Gymnastics has changed so much since 1985! The scoring system is completely different. I understand the need to change because gymnastics keeps evolving and pushing athletes to perform harder and more complex moves, but I’ll miss “the perfect 10”. ; )
The equipment has also changed quite a bit since 1985. The vault is a completely different apparatus. The asymmetrical bars are wider apart and thinner (I remember I couldn’t wrap my whole hand around the bar even without handgrips!). We didn’t have all the beautiful dazzling bling on gym suits. My mom sewed around 300 gym suits for me in my career and I remember, on one of them she put a stud on each arm, and when I had my arms up, I would see the sparkling stud out of the corner of my eye, and thought it was so cool. I would have loved today’s fancy gym suits!
- Why did you decide to become an ambassador for the 2017 FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships?
I’m honoured to be an ambassador for the 2017 AGWC. Having competed in 1985 was special. This year’s World Championships is an exciting opportunity to share my passion and enthusiasm for my sport and a dear event in my life. It is another fantastic way to get involved. I am ready to welcome the world to Montréal at the Olympic Stadium.