LAKEWOOD RANCH — Jason Burnett began taking gymnastics when he was 8 years old, but within a matter of weeks, the Toronto native had all but given up on the sport.
Instead of concentrating on his gymnastics classes, Burnett’s attention shifted to the trampoline, where he would spend time flipping around after every gymnastics class. Two years later, Burnett attended a gymnastics summer camp based entirely on the trampoline.
He was hooked.
“When I was in gymnastics, I always found the trampoline to be the reward at the end of every gym class; so I thought why continue taking gymnastics when I can have fun on the trampoline all day long,” Burnett said.
It’s been more than a decade since Burnett set foot on a trampoline, and now the 2008 Olympic silver medalist is preparing to introduce the sport to dozens of East County students. Burnett will visit Kids Supergym in Lakewood Ranch May 8-9 to talk to students about the art of trampoline and help train future trampolinists.
“I just want to bring new ideas into the gym,” Burnett said. “Trampoline can be scary at times and different fears can accumulate, but there’s always a way to work through it. It’s really about learning skills, creating new skills and improving the sport for yourself.”
Shortly after taking up trampoline, Burnett began competing in provincial competitions throughout Quebec. Two years later, he joined Skyriders Trampoline Place in southern Ontario where he began competing at the novice national level before working his way up to the youth national level, allowing him to compete in international meets.
When he was 16, Burnett became a member of the senior national team; and in 2008, he earned a spot on the Canadian Olympic team, becoming Canada’s lone male trampolinist at the Beijing Games.
The experience was a memorable one for the 22-year-old, who finished seventh in the preliminary round to advance to the finals. During the second day of competition, Burnett completed the most difficult routine of the Olympics, which included a double backward with four twists.
In trampoline, individuals compete in front of a five-judge panel, and the highest and lowest scores are eliminated. The three middle scores are added and combined with the trampolinist’s degree of difficulty to determine the overall score. With his high level of difficulty, Burnett surged past his competitors.
“My goal at first was to just make it into the top eight and advance, and then I would worry about the medal afterward,” Burnett said. “I just wanted to take it one step at a time.”
After medaling in Beijing, Burnett went on to compete in the World Cup in Portugal, where he became the first Canadian to win the competition. In addition, Burnett owns the world record for the hardest routines in both competition and training.
In the finals of the 2007 Lake Placid World Cup, Burnett broke the 20-year Russian world record for degree of difficulty with 17.50 points; and in February, Burnett set a new training record.
“I’ve definitely enjoyed learning all of the new skills, and now that I’ve done that I enjoy creating skills on my own,” Burnett said. “It’s fun being admired and even potentially feared by my rivals.
“I still have so much fun with the sport,” he added. “Every now and then, I have my off days, but it’s never for a prolonged period of time.”
For more information on Kids Supergym visit its Web site at www.kidssupergym.com.
Contact Jen Blanco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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