Estonian-Canadian gymnast Carmel Kallemaa wins four medals at the Commonwealth Games

Carmel Kallemaa, a Toronto-based Estonian-born gymnast, won a gold in the rhythmic gymnastics team event at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, UK, as part of the Canadian squad; she also won a silver in the clubs event and bronze medals in both the ribbon and hoop events.

The 24-year-old won the gold medal in rhythmic gymnastics team event on 4 August, representing Canada at the Commonwealth Games. 

“With impressive scores in the hoop and ball, the Canadian squad of Tatiana Cocsanova, Suzanna Shahbazian and Carmel Kallemaa totalled 272.950 points ahead of silver-medallist Australia,” the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation said on its website.

Rhythmic gymnastics is a sport in which gymnasts perform on a floor with an apparatus: a hoop, a ball, clubs, a ribbon or a rope. The sport combines elements of gymnastics, dance and calisthenics and the gymnasts must be strong, flexible, agile, dexterous and coordinated.

“The feeling I think [will be] hard to describe for the next few days until I get home and it actually kicks in that I’m a Commonwealth champion,” Kallemaa told the CBC, after the team event. “So I think the feeling is going to come a bit later. Right now it’s all just so unbelievable.”

Carmel Kallemaa, a Toronto-based Estonian-born gymnast, won a gold in the rhythmic gymnastics team event at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, UK, as part of the Canadian squad; she also won a silver in the clubs event and bronze medals in both the ribbon and hoop events. Photo from the official Commonwealth Games 2022 gallery.

She went on to win a silver in the clubs event and bronze medals in both the ribbon and hoop events on 6 August. “It was just my dream to make it to this competition. At first I didn’t even dream about finals. I was just thinking I wanted to make it there,” she said, according to the CBC. 

“I made it there and was hoping to at least make one final. To make three finals and one medal in each event, it’s just unbelievable. It’s one of the best days of my life so far for sure”.

Success in Canada

Kallemaa was born in Estonia and moved to Canada with her family at the age of 15, when her mother, a former high profile gymnast Janika Mölder – who was once a member of the Soviet Union’s gymnastics team – was offered to run an Estonian-founded sports club in Toronto.

Kallemaa represented the Estonian national team as an individual gymnast from 2012 to 2018; since 2019, she has represented Canada.

Janika Mölder, Carmel Kallemaa’s mother and her coach, hugs her daughter and other gymnasts of the Canadian squad at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Photo from the official Commonwealth Games 2022 gallery.

The Commonwealth Games is a quadrennial international multi-sport event among athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations. The event was first held in 1930, and, with the exception of 1942 and 1946 (cancelled due to the Second World War), have successively run every four years since. The games were called the British Empire Games from 1930 to 1950, the British Empire and Commonwealth Games from 1954 to 1966, and British Commonwealth Games from 1970 to 1974.

Twenty cities in nine countries have hosted the games. The ongoing Commonwealth Games, the 22nd, is being held in Birmingham from 28 July to 8 August 2022. The next one is scheduled to be hosted across four cities in the Australian state of Victoria from 17 to 29 March 2026.

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