When Megan Hamilton joined the Okanagan Rhythmic Gymnastics club in 2005, she started down a path that not only changed, but essentially defined the better part of her young life. She found a passion for the sport and didn’t look back.
Some 12 years later, as this athletic chapter comes to an epic end, she reflects on her stellar career which saw her earn a gold medal in the B.C. Winter Games and make finals nine times at major elite Canadian championships. She starred in 13 Okanagan rhythmic and Cirque Theatre Company Productions and represented Canada overseas, winning a bronze medal in the Pam Ams.
Hamilton, of Vernon, also competed in World Cup and Grand Prix events while visiting places all over North America, Hungary (Budapest &Debrecen), Estonia (Tallin &Tartu), Athens, Greece, Lisbon, Portugal and Merida, Mexico.
“Rhythmic gymnastics has changed my life,” said Hamilton. “The character, drive and focus I have developed will stick with me through everything I do. I am so thankful for the entire experience; both the ups and the downs, because the hard parts or the disappointments were where I grew as a person.
“From age six to age 15, I was a technician in the gym, a perfectionist. However, at the age of 15 I broke through barriers and in my final three years I became an artist as well. The gym gave me a safe place to learn to be vulnerable and express myself. This is one of the most valuable lessons that I have learned. People are impressed by perfection, but they can only truly connect to authentic emotion.”
Hamilton closed her nationals career in May and said it required more mental preparation than usual as she contemplated going out without success. She was nervous in qualifications but snuck into the finals.
“It was then that I really applied the idea of having nothing to lose. No one could take away everything that I had accomplished. And so, after some of the most consistent four routines of my career, I hit the end pose of my last routine. Every part of me felt so alive. I will never forget that day. Presenting to the judges for the last time, having a home crowd to wave to, embracing my coaches with the tears streaming, and walking out into the audience and being shocked at how many people I had impacted. It was the most beautiful ending that I could ever hoped for.”
Former Olympian Camille Martens says coaching Hamilton has been one of the most fulfilling and delightful experiences of her life.
“My job as a coach is to teach technique and enable artistry, but beyond that I truly believe my purpose is to facilitate athletes as they reconcile the gap between their current reality and their potential. To see an athlete persevere down this path so diligently, on multiple levels, is inspiring. Megan not only amplified her strengths and overcame her insecurities; she had the rare courage to both face and dismantle any part of herself that stood in the way of her greatest possibility.”
Hamilton is intrigued by history and spent this summer working at the Vernon museum. She begins studies towards a bachelor of arts degree with a major in history at Okanagan College this fall.
“Wherever life takes me, I know that I will always somehow stay connected to rhythmic gymnastics,” said Hamilton. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who has helped me along the way. I couldn’t have accomplished it without the endless support that I was so fortunate to receive.”
Added Martens: “Having her lead with honesty, integrity, commitment and heart has been a unique and beautiful experience for the whole team. She created a legacy that the next generation yearns to emulate, one much bigger than sport itself. Megan is widely admired and respected. Her warm smile, incredible turns, fabulous apparatus tricks and overall invigorating performances will be dearly missed on RG carpets everywhere. Her contributions will be treasured forever. We send her off with joy, knowing that anywhere she goes people will be blessed to know her.”