Jackson Payne is a gymnast with the Canadian Gymnastics Team and a returned missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Now I train at least 30 hours a week, and with everything else that I do towards gymnastics, it’s probably up to 35 hours a week. On top of that is some physio rehabilitation stuff. I am also a part-time student in Kinesiology at MacEwan University, and then looking toward medical school.
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I have a morning exercise routine I do from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. From 1 pm to 5 pm, I train at the gymnastics centre. Tuesday and Thursday, I workout at the swimming pool about an hour I then go to school until 12, again at 1 p.m. I go to the gymnastics centre. Some Saturdays I train in the morning and I train in the afternoon from 1pm to 5 pm. I take all Sundays off.
At the gym where I train, they all know that I am LDS. Actually, there are some other LDS kids that go there also, and some of the coaches are LDS. I have had the opportunity to pass out copies of the Book of Mormon. While I was on my mission, I sent my coach a copy and just recently I gave one of my girl coaches a copy. The reaction has always been positive. At first, when I gave one out it felt awkward, but afterwards, I thought, “Oh that wasn’t that bad; it wasn’t awkward”. I think the reason I felt so awkward was because they know me so well and I didn’t want them to have a different mindset about me.
We LDS members have our standards and there have been times when that has become an issue. Most of the sports world do not have the same standards.
There have been a ton of experiences where my whole team want to go out to the bar and wanted me to go along. They understand that competing on Sunday is one thing, but I have had to ask them not to use bad language, or play some kinds of music. I have been on the National Olympic Team for so long that it has almost become a standard for them too, which is great; they know that I don’t want to listen to that music, I don’t want to hear those swears during training and if I hear it now I have complete confidence and comfort to say, “stop swearing”, or, “stop saying that”. Luckily I have built a good enough relationship with them that they know me.I was named to the Canadian National ‘A’ Team in the 2008 & 2009 season. I attended my first World Championships in 2009. I have attended 12 Canadian National Championships, I have also attended 4 World Championships, many World Cup events and I have also attended an event called the Universiade Games. You have to be an enrolled university student in order to be in those games. Gymnastics is in all games. It’s in Pan American Games, Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games.
Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the last Pan American Games held in Toronto because of an injury. I ruptured my Achilles tendon about a week before we were to fly out to Toronto for the games. That was a bit of a setback. I have been so blessed that I had never had a serious injury until then. I had surgery on June 28, 2015. I have learned a lot from that.
The biggest thing that I learned from it is patience and the fact that we don’t have control over everything that happens, there are things that happen for a reason. Whatever happens to us we need to learn to get the best out of it instead of feeling sad about it. Actually, what comes to mind is what Elder Wirthlin said: “Come what may, and love it.” (Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, General Conference October 2008) I don’t know how I could have gotten through it without the gospel, to be honest.
IWe do not have a gymnastics team for Canada going to the Olympics in Brazil this year, but Gymnastics Canada has a spot to send one male athlete to compete. That spot is to be determined at the end of June. I will do my best to earn that one spot.
I have had a couple of schools ask me to speak at firesides as well. I actually enjoy the opportunity to speak in public because I get to reflect on things that have happened in the past. I hope that whomever I am speaking to can learn from what I have experienced and apply it to their lives.
I know that this gospel is true. I have had too many experiences and impressions to deny it.
I know the Book of Mormon is true; I have a testimony of it. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that the gospel has been restored to the earth.
I know it was only through him that it could have happened.
I have a testimony of the Atonement and the power that it has.
I know that families are forever, there is so much strength in families. I look forward to building a family of my own one day.
I have a testimony of a living prophet today, President Thomas S. Monson and his counselors and the apostles. I know that they are called of God.
I am grateful that I had the opportunity to serve a mission and to be a member of this Church. I want to be the best example that I can be to others around me and to my friends and family.
I gain lots of strength from reading the scriptures and listening to the general authorities speak.
I know that Jesus Christ is our Saviour and He is our older brother.
I know that Heavenly Father loves each of us and knows each of us personally and that He wants the best for everyone.