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Canada's Payne On a Mission For Worlds
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Veteran Canadian gymnast Jackson Payne recently completed one mission and began another.

Veteran Canadian gymnast Jackson Payne recently completed one mission and began another. Shortly after serving two years of missionary work in Korea for the Church of Latter Day Saints, Payne is making final preparations for next month's world championships in Nanning, where he aims for solid all-around, apparatus and team finishes.

Payne, a native of Edmonton, emerged as a Canadian standout in the previous Olympic cycle, during which he placed second all-around at the 2010 Canadian championships and first all-around at the 2011 Canadian championships. He competed at the 2009 Worlds in London, the 2010 Worlds in Rotterdam and the 2011 Worlds in Tokyo.

Nanning will be the 22-year-old Payne's second start following his Korean mission. He finished fourth on high bar at the Pan American championships in Mississauga on September 1.

In this IG Online interview, Payne details the purpose of his church mission and his new mission in Nanning.



Jackson Payne (Canada)

IG: What was the nature of your missionary work in Korea?

JP: I was in what was called the Korea Seoul South Mission, which included the southern part of the city and the surrounding areas. It was a two-year missionary service. As missionaries, we do a lot of things. We share and talk to people about out church and what we believe, we taught English and did other service opportunities. Also as missionaries you have very limited access to the internet. I was allowed to use the Internet for only one hour per week, and it was only to email my family and friends. We have no access to TV or other media. They keep us very focused on what we are supposed to be doing as missionaries.

IG: While on your mission, how much gymnastics/fitness did you do?

JP: For the first nine months I didn't do any gymnastics at all. I obviously tried to stay in fitness shape as much as possible, but it's difficult when they give you only 30 minutes per morning for your whole mission. Normally as a missionary you can't do the things I started to do toward the end of my mission.

Around March or April 2013 I was given permission to do a little bit of gymnastics, maybe like eight hours per week. It was very inconsistent through summer 2013 and winter 2013. Then, at the start of February 2014, I was able to go the gym a lot more - about 14 hours per week. Not lots, but a lot for me at the time. That is when I started feeling back into it. I arrived home in Canada in late June.

IG: How have you been able to get back into international form so quickly?

JP: It feels to me that it has taken forever to get back, probably because of some of the really hard days that I had to go through by myself in Korea. But I owe a lot to my coach (Liang Cheng) for keeping tabs on me while I was away and encouraging me with words, and also that he showed he cared for me and knew I could get back. I also owe my parents and family members for all the support they gave me along the way. Honestly speaking, I know that I have been blessed for my efforts.

IG: What are your realistic expectations for Nanning, in terms of your own performance and your team's performance?

JP: For me, because this is just my second competition since my mission, I want to show some good form, and hit my routines I have ready. I feel as though I can give a good placing in the all-around. I am also focusing on high bar and pommel horse, to hit a routine I know I can score pretty high with. As for our team, we don't look too bad. I have been a little sheltered over the past, so I'm not too sure how some countries are doing, but I think we are in a safe place to qualify a team to the next worlds (in 2015).

International Gymnast magazine's coverage of Canadian gymnasts nominated for the 2014 world championships includes:

"Canadian Promise" - Ellie Black chat, Isabela Onyshko profile, Robert Watson interview (July/August 2014)
"Canadian Diversity" - Ellie Black profile, Hugh Smith profile (July/August 2013)
"Black to Business" Ellie Black interview (November 2012)
"Aiming to Top the Charts" - Maegan Chant profile (October 2013)
Ken Ikeda profile (October 2002)
"Making Tracks" - Scott Morgan profile (December 2013)
Jackson Payne interview (September 2011)
Aleeza Yu two-page photo spread (May 2014)

To order back issues, or subscribe to the print and/or digital edition of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

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