Cockburn became involved in sports as a diver when she was a child; she used the trampoline as a training tool for her diving practice. After trying artistic gymnastics, she switched to competitive trampolining at age 11.
Karen Cockburn, trampoline gymnast (born at Toronto, Ont, 2 October 1980). Karen Cockburn is one of the most successful gymnasts in Canadian history. She is the only trampoline athlete to have won a medal at every OLYMPIC GAMES in which trampoline has been an event, and joins an elite group of Canadian athletes to have won three medals at three consecutive Olympics. She is a 12 time Canadian champion and a world Champion in the sport.
Cockburn became involved in sports as a diver when she was a child; she used the trampoline as a training tool for her diving practice. After trying artistic gymnastics, she switched to competitive trampolining at age 11. Cockburn began competing as a senior national athlete in 1995 when she was 15 years old. That year, she won the first of many national titles. Her time on the team, however, was cut short when she suffered a serious injury to her right knee. The injury, and resulting reconstructive surgery and rehabilitation took her out of competition for the 1996 season, after which she competed wearing a knee brace.
In 1999, Cockburn competed in the Olympic trials, earning a spot for Canada. The 2000 Olympics were the first in which trampoline was recognized t; when Cockburn qualified for the Games, she was the second youngest entry and was ranked fifth in the world. At those Games, Cockburn won her first Olympic medal, a bronze.
Cockburn would win her second Olympic medal at the 2004 Games in Athens, advancing her standing to silver. In 2006, Cockburn finished on the podium at every international event she entered; most notably, she won gold at the World Cup and the Pan American Championships.
In 2007. a year of highs and lows for Cockburn, she again won a medal at each international event she entered, winning gold at the PAN-AMERICAN GAMES. However, she re-injured her knee just two weeks before the World Championships, a qualifying competition for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Despite the injury, she competed and qualified for the Games, but required surgery in December.
Against the odds, Cockburn was back on the trampoline two months after her surgery, and went on to capture her third medal, a silver, at the 2008 Olympics. The win made her one of only five Canadian athletes to win a medal in three consecutive Olympics. As a result, Cockburn was asked to be the flag bearer for Canada at the Beijing Closing Ceremonies. The honour was a capstone to a successful year for Cockburn, where she finished first at the World Cup, Canadian Championships, and Elite Canada competitions.
In 2009, Cockburn won a bronze medal at the World Championships. She began competing in synchronized events with Rosannagh MacLennan. The pair has won eight consecutive World Cup events in synchronized trampoline, including second place at the 2009 Canadian Championships, and the 2009 World Championships. In 2010, Cockburn finished first at the 2010 Canadian Championships, Pan American Championships, and Pacific Rim Championships.
Cockburn enjoyed a successful year in 2011 During which she placed first in both the individual and synchronized events at the Elite Canada competitions, the World Cup in Japan, and the Canada Cup. She also qualified for a spot on the Olympic team that competed in London in 2012. Delivering a strong performance, she nonetheless finished in fourth position behind teammate Rosannagh Maclennan who took the gold medal.
In addition to her numerous Canadian titles and international success, Cockburn is an ambassador for the youth programs At My Best and Canadian Tire Jumpstart. She also serves on Gymnastics Canada's board of directors.