Jayson Rampersad made his Commonwealth Games debut as a senior gymnast in Birmingham this year, helping Canada win Men’s Team Silver, and qualifying for the Pommel Horse Final, in which he won Bronze. In July, Jayson was part of the Canadian team selected for the Pan American Championships, where he came away as a Silver medalist on the Pommel Horse, and with the team winning Bronze, Canada qualified for the World Championships later this year in Liverpool. As a junior gymnast, one of Jayson’s highlights was winning Silver on the Pommel Horse at the Berlin Junior Team Cup in 2019. Since Canada qualified for this year’s World Championships, Jayson is hoping to be selected for the team and his long-term goal is to compete at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. We recently caught up with Jayson, who tells us about being selected for Canada for his Commonwealth Games debut in Birmingham this year, winning Team Silver and Bronze on the Pommel Horse at the Games and competing at the Pan American Championships in July.
You’ve recently competed at your first Commonwealth Games, how did you prepare for the competition?
In preparation for this competition, I practiced many routines. Being an event specialist and having the team depend on me for solely that one event adds a lot of extra pressure. In training I would do routine after routine trying to perfect every little thing I could. I knew that the team would be counting on my score for Pommel Horse so to prepare, it came down to just putting in the numbers to build confidence and be in top shape.
How was the experience competing in Birmingham and what was it like staying in the athletes village?
The experience of competing in Birmingham is one of my favourites. The crowd there was incredible. It was my first time competing in front of an audience that size. To have such a supportive and energetic crowd was an amazing thing to feel. Staying in the athletes village is something I’m so glad I got to experience. The village was set up in a way that encouraged the socialisation of not only athletes from different sports but different countries as well. This inclusive aspect of village life with spaces for athletes to hang out, play games, and watch and support the other sports is what made my experience so special.
What was it like winning Men’s Team Silver with Team Canada and qualifying for the Pommel Horse Final?
Being up on that podium with such a great team was an amazing feeling. We had all been working so hard leading up to this competition and we really shared each other’s triumphs and struggles through our entire trip. The bond that we built in the process for preparing for this competition made winning that Silver Team medal so much better.
When I found out I made Pommel finals, I felt a wave of emotions. I was really excited to get to compete in a Final with such high-caliber athletes. I felt that just to be amongst them was an accomplishment. After qualifying for finals, it left me extremely motivated and wanting to really show what I was capable of.
How did it feel performing in the Pommel Horse Final and coming away with the Bronze medal?
When performing in the Pommel Horse Final, I found myself at ease and confident in myself. I felt this way because of the great support team I had with me and the support I had back home from friends and family. They really helped me through this event to believe in myself and to trust in my abilities. Coming away with the Bronze medal was such an amazing way to wrap up my first Commonwealth Games. When the last score for the Final came in, which confirmed my Bronze medal finish, I was so overjoyed I couldn’t contain my smile. The first thing I did after the medal ceremony was to go see my parents and younger sister who had been watching me from the stands.
Was there anything you enjoyed most about your first Commonwealth Games and how did you stay focused during your competitions?
When it comes to staying focused during competitions, I just try to focus on myself and what I can control. Over the years I’ve really learned how to zone in when it’s time to perform.
Can you tell us how it felt winning Bronze in the Team and Silver in the Pommel Horse at the Pan American Championships in Rio de Janeiro in July?
It felt good to not only win an individual medal but to win a Team Bronze and qualify Canada a team to the Worlds. We went in with the mindset that it was our job to qualify a team for Worlds and that’s exactly what we did. I know that I took a great amount of satisfaction and pride knowing that we got the job done.
How was it competing in Rio de Janeiro and representing Canada?
It always feels good to represent Canada. I take great pride in wearing that maple leaf.
Last year, you competed at your first World Championships, what was this like?
My first World Championships was an amazing experience. I learned a great deal on that trip from other athletes and older teammates. That competition helped me to grow a lot as an athlete.
Can you say about some of the other senior competitions you’ve been part of?
I’ve competed at World Challenge Cups in Turkey and Slovenia. I’ve also competed at a World Cup in Egypt.
Do you remember how you felt being selected to represent Team Canada at senior level for the first time?
When I was selected to represent Canada at a senior level for the first time. I was overjoyed. I remember thinking to myself that I was finally getting a chance to live out the dreams younger me had.
You also competed at junior level, how different did you find transitioning to senior and what are some of your stand-out highlights from competing as a junior gymnast?
I found the transition from junior to senior to be quite easy. My coach’s approach to training and pushing difficulty is what I attribute the ease of transitioning to. A big highlight of my junior career would be when I won a Silver medal on Pommel Horse at the Berlin Junior Team Cup in 2019.
Where does your love of gymnastics come from and how did you start?
My journey through gymnastics began when I was about four years old. I had a lot of energy as a kid. My mom was a gymnast in high school so she decided that I should be put into it to burn off some energy. From there I fell in love with the sport. My love for gymnastics comes from when I was first starting out. I had some amazing coaches in my early years who fueled the interest I already had for the sport. My love for the rush I get while competing is something that pulled me in the first time and keeps me in love with the sport.
Is there anything you enjoy most about being an elite gymnast and what is a typical training day for you?
A typical training day for me starts at 7:00am. I wake up and drive over to my local club for 7:30am and train until 11:30am. After I am done training, I head home to take a nap and eat lunch. I then go to school in the evenings. After school, I make dinner, then sleep and repeat it all again the next day.
How do you like to spend your time away from your career?
Time away from gymnastics is usually spent with friends and family. However, recently I learned how to play the guitar so that has become a favourite pastime of mine.
Do you have any upcoming competitions you will be competing at or are targeting that you can tell us about?
The next short term competition goal for me is to be on the World Championships team that will be going to Liverpool. Long term, however, I’m aiming to compete at the 2024 Olympics.
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