Canada’s Jayson Rampersad: ‘Once I had the confidence, the consistency and quality followed’

Written by John Crumlish for International Gymnast Online

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Jayson Rampersad of Canada poses with his pommel horse bronze at this summer's Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Photo courtesy Jayson Rampersad

In the three weeks surrounding his 19th birthday this summer, Canadian gymnast Jayson Rampersad instead celebrated an extended competitive rally as he won two medals apiece at the Pan American Championships and Commonwealth Games.

Rampersad, who turned 19 on July 31, took silver on pommel horse and team bronze at the Pan American Championships held July 14-17 in Rio, and followed up those successes by earning bronze on pommel horse and team silver at the Commonwealth Games held July 29-August 2 in Birmingham.

In Birmingham, Rampersad’s pommel horse routine compared favorably to more experienced gymnasts such as Joe Fraser of England and Rhys McClenaghan of Northern Ireland, who took gold and silver, respectively. Fraser placed third on pommel horse at the 2021 European Championships, and McClenaghan placed third on pommel horse at both the 2018 Europeans and the 2019 Worlds.

Rampersad, who trains under coach Chris Foo at Gymnastics Mississauga in his birth city of Mississauga, Ontario, is now eager for future match-ups against the global best, starting with this fall’s World Championships in Liverpool.

A faulty routine on pommel horse in qualifications kept Rampersad from making a stronger impact in his World debut last fall in Kitakyushu, where he ranked 87th, but he showed his potential when he placed eighth place on pommel horse at the 2021 Challenge Cup of Mersin and 14th on pommel horse at the 2022 World Cup of Cairo. He was third all-around, first on pommel horse and second on horizontal bar in the Next Generation (ages 18-20) division at the Canadian Championships in May.

In this International Gymnast Online interview, Rampersad shares his insights on his recently manifested confidence, the factors contributing to his competitive progress and his strategy for future successes.

IGO: In the Commonwealth Games pommel horse final, how did you keep your physical and mental composure, going up against Joe Fraser, who was third on pommel horse at the 2021 Europeans, and Rhys McClenaghan, who was third at the 2019 Worlds?

JR: When it comes to keeping my mental composure during competition, I tend to focus on only the things that I can control. All I’m thinking about in the moment is myself and doing what I’ve trained to do.

IGO: What do you think caused your mistakes on pommel horse in qualifications at last year’s Worlds? How much do you think your first mistake contributed to the second mistake?

JR: During the day of competition, I can honestly say that it just wasn’t my day. The mistakes I made were ones that I hadn’t made in any trainings leading up to the competition. The fact that I made that same mistake twice was merely a coincidence. However, after making these errors I learned a great deal about how to fight to stay on without a fall and how to push past any mistakes I’ve made. Although the experiencing those mistakes at such a big competition wasn’t ideal, I feel I learned a lot from it.

Jayson Rapersad (third from left) celebrates with the Canadian team after they won team bronze at this summer’s Pan American Championships in Rio. Photo courtesy Jayson Rampersad

IGO: What adjustments have you made to your actual routine, and mentally, to become more consistent this year, as evidenced by your medal-winning routines in Rio and Birmingham?

JR: After my mistakes at Worlds my goal was to be as consistent as a I could possibly be. The composition and skills in my routine haven’t changed but I think my approach to them has. It came down to doing dozens of routines and sequences to build my confidence. Once I had the confidence the consistency and quality followed. 

IGO: In Rio and Birmingham you competed on floor and pommel horse. On which additional apparatuses do you think you can help the Canadian team in future competition?

JR: Looking into the future I could see myself helping wherever is needed. I’ve been recently starting to upgrade my other events to be more competitive. In competition there is often lots of unknowns, and I believe that by diversifying my gymnastics I can help the team to be more adaptable. If I had to pick one event where I could contribute to the team it would likely be floor. My start value isn’t the highest but it’s a solidly executed routine that can be counted on to hit.

IGO: Between now and Worlds, what will be the steps you need to take to earn a spot on the team for Liverpool?

JR: There is a selection camp in early September. At the camp we will have control comps to assess what composition of athletes would produce the best team results. Other than this camp I have no other competitions, and will be focusing on training and preparing to earn my spot and be ready to compete.

IGO: Having recently turned 19, what do you think has enabled you to become so internationally strong on pommel horse at this relatively young age?

JR: I owe a great deal to my previous coach, Ferenc Szabo. His coaching helped develop me into the gymnast I am today. He always encouraged me to hold myself to a very high standard. He encouraged me to aim high when it came to my goals. This attitude and approach to training is what I believe to have set me up to be as strong on pommel horse as I am. When it comes to being strong on the event when competing, I find it all comes down to something Ferenc told me. He said, “Pressure is a privilege.” This completely changed the way a looked at competitions, and helped to ease the nerves and keep me calm even in the most stressful of situations. I think what can be most attributed to my strength on pommels is my mindset.

Gymnastics Mississauga’s support has also been monumental in my development to get me to where I am now. The staff there have been amazing in supporting my journey over the past few years. I am very thankful to have the opportunity to train in a beautiful facility with amazing equipment and great atmosphere.

IGO: We understand you enjoy playing the guitar. How does that help you, psychologically and creatively?

JR: I like to play all different kinds of music. Playing the guitar became a way to relax after long days at gym and school. It is an escape from the stresses of everyday life for me. I think having such a thing like that in your life is very important for your mental health.

International Gymnast Online’s other recent coverage of Canadian gymnasts includes:

Canada’s Denelle Pedrick: ‘I’ve gained confidence over the years and it shows’

Woo, Kaji Win Canadian Senior All-Around Titles

World Cup medals give Canada’s Laurie Denommée ‘motivation to be better’

From Canada to California: ‘I’m just a more mature, happier Ana Padurariu’

Canada’s Rose Woo: ‘Staying consistent and elegant will help me keep my spot’

Canada’s Felix Dolci: ‘I know what I want and how to get there’

Canada’s Brooklyn Moors: ‘I have more trust in myself and my skills’

Canada’s Ava Stewart and Coach Elena Davydova Take On 2021

Canada’s Emard on quarantine: ‘There were positive points, too, in isolation’

From Anxiety To Ecstasy: William Emard Makes Canadian Gymnastics History

Olsen on Tokyo Postponement: ‘Another Year To Get Better and Refocus’

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