Karen Cockburn juggling sports and her daughter

Karen and Emilee (2) 2015

Émilie Turgeon sees a trampoline and knows just what to do — bend your knees and bounce.

She knows how to do a seat drop too, but she prefers to face plant and then, looking over at mom’s concerned face, burst into giggles.

That this 20-month-old is comfortable at Skyriders Trampoline Place is little surprise given her pedigree.

Her mom is Karen Cockburn, a three-time Olympic medallist on the trampoline, and her dad is Mathieu Turgeon, a retired Olympic medallist.

Even Émilie’s middle name, Sydney, has to do with this sport. Her parents started dating at the 2000 Summer Games and picked up the family’s first Olympic hardware in Sydney, his and hers bronze medals in trampoline.

After the London Olympics, Cockburn, then 32, knew she wanted a baby and didn’t want to put it off any longer.

But that doesn’t mean she intended to give up her career.

“Society likes to put people in boxes,” she says. “You’re a parent now, that’s who you are or you’re this age, you shouldn’t do this anymore. I don’t want to be put in a box.”

As it turned out, having Émilie would be the easiest of the two challenges she faced to get back to her sport in time for the Toronto Pan Am Games in July.

Last November, two days before the world championships, Cockburn was thrown off balance in a jump and landed on the metal side of the trampoline. It’s covered in padding but that doesn’t mean much when coming down from 18 feet in the air and she smashed her ankle into pieces.

“I was finally back at the world class level and then, boom — that was pretty depressing after climbing such a big mountain to get back there.”

A metal plate and eight screws later, she spent the winter chasing a toddler around on crutches before embarking on yet another comeback to the trampoline.

She has been back jumping for two months now. “It hurts” she says, but nowhere near enough to quit.

She doesn’t like to give up on anything she sets out to do and the draw of competing at the Pan Ams in Toronto is enormous for her.

“I’ve never got to compete in Toronto at a major event. I just think it would be awesome to be part of that.”

All the time off, planned and not, from her sport also served to rekindle her passion.

“For 2012 it kind of started to become a job,” Cockburn says. “When I came back to jumping I was having so much more fun.”

That hasn’t helped get her spatial awareness back any faster or made throwing a 10-trick routine any easier, though.

“It’s like with any sport. The athletes make it look easy but it’s really not,” she says laughing.

Émilie, for one, isn’t that impressed by mom’s jumping.

“She sees me jump and she laughs, she thinks it’s funny.”

By: Sports reporter, Published on Sat May 09 2015

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