Adrian Johnson did better than expected in his first appearance at the Western Canadian Championships.
The level 4 gymnast surprised himself by placing fifth overall on vault with a score of 12.65 last weekend in Regina.
“I was actually really pleased with my performance considering those are the best people in all of western Canada,” said Johnson, who trains at the Dynamyx Gymnastics Club of St. Albert. “I actually didn’t expect to make event finals because for most people it’s hard to do, especially considering there are lots of people that have been there for several years.”
Johnson was invited to westerns as part of an independent contingent of athletes after achieving fourth all-around status at provincials last month in St. Albert.
“AJ went into [westerns] as the seventh-place Alberta boy and ended up finishing fourth out of Team Alberta, so that was a big improvement for him,” said coach Kelly Baird.
At westerns Johnson qualified for event finals on vault with a fourth-place effort of 12.95 as the top six advanced. In the final, vault was the first event and he started off the competition.
“It was kind of nice actually because the vault is a quick event,” said the Grade 11 student at Ă©cole Secondaire Ste-Marguerite d’Youville School. “After I was done I got to see all those really good guys, the ones that have been doing this for a long, long time and are at a lot higher skill than I am. It was kind of inspiring to see them do those cool tricks.”
Consistency was the key to Johnson’s success, not only on vault but also with the rest of his events.
“I didn’t do any big mistakes and that’s really big for me, especially with the extra pressure of being at a really big meet,” he said. “I stayed at a constant performance because I didn’t fall in any of my events.”
His all-around mark on day one of the meet was 66.65 for ninth overall in the middle of the pack.
“I’m decently good at all the events generally but it was still kind of a surprise. I didn’t think I would be that close to actually getting a ribbon for placing overall,” said Johnson, 16, one of the older level 4 competitors at westerns.
He made great strides on pommel with a score of 10.65 for eighth place in the preliminary round.
“AJ’s biggest problem before was pommel horse but he stayed on and that was exciting to see,” Baird said. “His score [on pommel] improved by enormous marks so that helped his all-around score.”
“Pommel is very difficult for me to even stay on sometimes and I didn’t fall off at all so that was really good,” added Johnson.
He also tied for eighth on floor at 11.75 and rings at 10.20.
“I was really pleased with getting eighth in so many of my events,” said the fourth-year Dynamyx member. “I added a couple of extra tumbling lines that were challenging for me because floor is not usually my best event and just in the last week or so I tried really hard to become better at it. As for the rings, that was very cool. It’s probably my easiest event.”
Johnson was also ninth on high bar at 10.50 and tied for 15th on parallel bars at 10.60.
“My high bar was pretty good,” he said “With p-bars it was point reductions that got me.”
Johnson was coming off a strong showing at provincials as the runner-up on rings (11.10). He also placed third on high bar (11.10), tied for fourth on vault (12.90) and finished sixth on pommel (11.00), seventh on parallel bars (10.85) and 10th on floor (11.35).
“Provincials was the best I’ve ever done at a competition, but it’s actually kind of hard to top your best performance,” said Johnson, who is taller than your average gymnast at five-foot-nine.
Westerns marked his last meet of the season until January.
“I’m going to be learning new skills until then.”