Written by Veronica Noronha
Inspired by the unity of Team Canada, Carmel Kallemaa set out to join the team long before she had even been to Canada. With a lot of hard work, perseverance, and commitment, in 2019 she did just that. She now proudly wears the Canadian flag on her uniform and performance costumes, as she continues to solidify her reputation on the world stage as an elite high-performance rhythmic gymnast. Her career began at the age of two (!) in Estonia and she has been building her skills for the past 20+ years. Now competing in the Senior age category, her future is certainly as bright as the sequins on her costumes.
Kallemaa is heading into her third university (Toronto Film School) while still competing all over the world. In June 2022, just a few days before our interview, she was coming off a high from the Rhythmic World Challenge Cup in Portimão, Portugal. Going into the competition, Kallemaa doubted she would make it to the finals, but she gave it everything.Her hard work paid off. To her surprise, she placed fourth in the clubs’ apparatus final! Beaming with pride she says, “this is the best moment during my career, for sure.”
Rhythmic Gymnastics requires incredible focus and coordination. Athletes are required to proficiently toss, throw, and catch apparatuses such as balls, clubs, ribbons, and hoops all the while spinning and contorting their bodies in time with the beat of the music. Incidentally, Kallemaa refers to her apparatuses as her best friends and when you see her perform her routines, it all becomes clear. It truly is amazing to see in action.
The Markham Pan Am Centre has the honour of being the home of Gymnastics Canada high-performance training centre for Rhythmic Gymnastics, bearing witness to their intense training, which for Kallemaa happens four to five times each week, up to six hours per day. In June 2022, we got a behind the scenes look at Kallemaa and a few of her teammates in our 648.55 sq. meters (6,978.4 sq. ft) Warm-up Hall with a ceiling height of 10.5 metres, which was transformed to allow for practice on one side and hosting qualifying rounds on the other side, for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
This space allows athletes to test their skills and apparatus management worry-free, and ultimately perfecting their routines. While this space is used seven days for training, on occasion it doubles as a warm-up space for athletes from a variety of sports before they hit the main competition floor on the other side of the wall. Our main gymnasium spans 2,375 sq. meters (25,478.18 sq. ft) and has hosted many Rhythmic Gymnastics competitions through the years. Kallemaa periodically trains here with some of her Gymnastics Canada teammates and has hit the competition floor here numerous times. She is not only focused on being the best in her sport, but she is also always thinking about how best to inspire the next generation of athletes.
Beautiful inside and out, Kallemaa says that what she loves most about the sport is getting the opportunity to “bring beauty to the world through our sport”. What’s next for Kallemaa? She’s training hard before she heads out to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the Senior Pan American Championships in July 2022 and has hopes to join her beloved Team Canada at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Join us as we cheer on Kallemaa!