Anna-Marie Ondaatje qualifies for World Rhythmic Gymnastics | Sunday Observer

Anna-Marie Ondaatje qualifies for World Rhythmic Gymnastics

13 August, 2023
Anna-Marie Ondaatje (right)at the opening ceremony of the Rhythmic Gymnastics Asian Championship in Manila, Philippines

Sri Lanka’s only rhythmic gymnast Anna-Marie Ondaatje is back on the Olympic trail after qualifying to compete at the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championship to be held in Valencia, Spain from August 23 to 27.

The Canadian-born athlete will be making her fifth appearance at the world event as she continues her quest to create history for Sri Lanka at the Olympic Games.

Having missed out at Tokyo 2022, the 22-year-old is fired up at the prospect of achieving her dream in the Paris Games next year.

“For the next 12 months, my focus will be to become the first Sri Lankan to take part in rhythmic gymnastics at the Olympics. All my other endeavours will come after I retire from the sport,” said Anna-Marie who also walks the ramp besides doing gymnastics.

The reigning Miss Asia Canada, Anna-Marie has ambitions of emulating her great grand aunt Maureen Hingert, the first Sri Lankan to win an award at a world beauty pageant in 1955.

“My priority is gymnastics at the moment,” reiterated Anna-Marie who wants to battle her demons and be in peak physical condition for Paris 2024.

Her talent and determination to stay on top in her sport was evident when she participated in the 14th Rhythmic Gymnastics Asian Championship in Manila, Philippines in June despite being diagnosed with hip injury on the eve of the competition.

“Right before I left for the Asian championship, I got a diagnosis from my doctor that I had two tears in my hip. Having prepared hard to compete in the Asian tournament and earn my place to be eligible for the Olympics, I went and competed anyway.

“My doctor said when I come back to get my treatment,” said Anna-Marie who went under the knife after her return from Manila.

Despite the injury, she managed to qualify for the world championship being among the top 12 nations. “I got pretty good scores. I was able to persevere and overcome the injury,” said Anna-Marie who has been having chronic hip problems since the age of 15.

“It is mainly because of overuse. It depends on your body composition, how you do your movements and everything. Your body will decide how well it can take certain things. For me it was too overbearing. It was only recently I had some procedure with surgery,” explained Anna-Marie who has been a gymnast since the age of nine.

“The healing time is six to eight weeks. Last week after my six-week mark, I just started to do everything fully, and recovered pretty well. But only one of the two tears was treated. I still have one more surgical procedure when I come back from the world event,” she said in an interview with the Sunday Observer.

Asked about her expectations at the upcoming tournament, she said: “I’m just coming out of an injury and surgery for it as well. My expectation is to get back into shape since I performed very well in the Asian championship and keep healthy to compete at the Olympics.”

“This is most important year to qualify for the Paris Games. The world championship is one way of qualification. Every year has been quite good. This will be my strongest year,” said Anna-Marie who will be accompanied by her coach from young days Mimi Masleva, the former national coach of Bulgaria, Canada and Japan.