Incredibly driven, hard-working, and ambitious, Isabela Onyshko’s 2016 was filled with highlights. Not only did she graduate from high school with top marks, but she had Canada’s top all-around result in the qualifiers at the Olympics in Rio before going on to finish 18th in the all-around, and 8th on beam – Canada’s best-ever result (and only qualification ever on the apparatus). Bela, as she’s known to her teammates, was recently named the 2016 Canadian senior women’s artistic gymnast of year (along with Ellie Black).
My best friend was in a just for fun program, and like most little kids, I wanted to do what my friends were doing so my mom enrolled me in gymnastics too.
What about gymnastics has kept you interested in the sport?
I think it would be the challenge and that it’s always different. You get to focus on so many areas, and you never stop trying to improve. I know that’s the same in every sport, but because it’s always changing, you’re always adapting.
It was a heck of year for you -- athlete of the year for 2016, Canadian Champion, Elite Champion, the Olympics – all-around finals and apparatus finals! How are you feeling? Did you have any sense going into 2016 that you’d have that much success?
I’m feeling pretty good! When I look back on it, it’s really weird how everything came together. I didn’t know it would, my main focus was making the Olympic team. Everything else was just icing on the cake.
It was your debut at the Olympics, how was the experience? Was it everything you thought it would be?
Yes and no, it was an amazing experience, but when I was out there competing it felt like just another competition. You just have to go out there and get the job done. That [feeling] was an interesting thing I wasn’t expecting.
What were your goals going into the Olympics?
First and foremost, was to help the team as much as I could, and then it was to make all-around finals.
Since coming back from Rio you’ve been dealing with some injuries. How’s all that going now?
Well coming back wasn’t what I expected. I had planned to take a two and a half week break and thought I would be good, but I wasn’t and I had to [still] heal up some old injuries in my wrist and my shoulder. So, I had to take all of December off, and I was in the gym, but I really didn’t want to be there, and it wasn’t right. So, I came back in January and everything was better.
Describe yourself in three words:
Calm, easy-going, approachable
What’s your advice for young gymnasts?
To believe in yourself, work hard, and when you’re competing act confident, act like you belong.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
It was from my sports psychologist. She told me to go out there, keep my chin up, shoulders back, and act like I belong because even if you don’t believe it, it helps. People will perceive you as being confident and that makes a huge difference.
You seem to have a great relationship with your coaches, if you could say anything to them what would it be?
Thank you so much, it wouldn’t be possible without you guys. I think we’ve gotten closer over the four years, and I’m excited for what we can do, and I think it’s going to be great!
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