JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – A 17-year-old Jacksonville Beach gymnast was one of only 20 picked across the country in his age group to compete in the men’s gymnastics national championship in Oklahoma City.
Matthew Janson, the only one on his Junior Development SEGA Gymnastics team who qualified, left Thursday for the competition. SEGA Gymnastics practices out of the Beaches Gymnastics facility.
“I’ve given everything to gymnastics,” Janson said. “When you go to regionals you have to hit a certain score, and they only take about like 19 kids in the age group.”
Janson’s father, Matt, recalled the moment he found out his son qualified for nationals.
“Just to watch his expression as we saw the scores on the sheet. He works really hard,” Matt Janson said.
Matthew Janson has been doing gymnastics at SEGA for almost seven years, and before that, he gave his all to taekwondo.
It was his taekwondo instructor who convinced him to try gymnastics after adding acrobatics to his taekwondo routines.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a time where we haven’t been in awe of everything he’s doing,” Matthew’s mother, Liza Janson said.
Liza Janson was a gymnast for 11 years, so her talent for the sport was born in Matthew.
Matthew took home first place in his first-ever gymnastics competition, so he’s always excelled in the sport.
However, this week’s competition will be different than that very first meet. Matthew will be competing with gymnasts from all over the country.
“I’m really excited; I’m nervous though,” he said.
The part of the competition he’s least nervous about is the floor routine because of the tumbling.
“I have an awareness in the air that I’m pretty good with,” Matthew said.
A talent born from another sport, Matthew is doing what he’s been meant to do his whole life and hopes he can prove that to his gymnastics team at nationals.
“This sport is unlike others and you really have to put 100% commitment,” his father said. “It teaches these athletes about winning and losing and being a good person.”