FAIRFIELD -Emma Johnson’s journey to becoming the FCIAC’s best gymnast wasn’t as easy one. As a Fairfield Warde freshman, Johnson could only watch her team perform as she had torn the meniscus in her right knee prior the postseason.
Now a sophomore, Johnson brought home gold in balance beam and floor exercise and silver on bars to earn the all-around title with a score of 36.9 at the FCIAC Gymnastics Championship held at Gymnastics and Cheerleading Academy of CT in Fairfield.
Warde finished second to Ludlowe in team competition.
“I’m proud of my team’s dedication,” Johnson said. “We have been competing with each other since we were very young in club. My teammates are very supportive and we are always cheering each other on.”
Warde and Ludlowe coach Kim Longobucco said: “Emma is unbelievably dedicated. She is hands down the hardest working gymnast I have ever coached. She had surgery last year and came back stronger than ever. She won FCIAC and was not even at her full potential as she has a minor injury now too. She most definitely has a bright future and will be a force in the FCIAC and state the next two years.”
When first the injury, and then the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Johnson didn’t waste a minute shaking a fist at the sky. She went to physical therapy to regain confidence in her knee. When outside club team competition was sidelined, Johnson did the conditioning needed to improve her skill level.
“I was forced to take a break and then with the pandemic I was able to focus on regaining strength,” Johnson said. “You run and do upper body and leg workouts. With gymnastics you need a strong core. When the season got going, everyone was in the same spot. We hadn’t been on equipment to train for so long. By fall I was back to where I was prior to injury.”
Johnson agreed that working toward being a champion takes a mental toll.
“It still gets to me to salute judges and go out and perform a routine,” she said. “It is hard to manage stress. It tests you mentally, some mornings I don’t want to go to the gym. It’s when you push past that when it can be very rewarding. Over time, I’ve learned I can’t control everything. I must trust the work I put in and do the best I can.”
Johnson competes with CGA of Fairfield, where in 2019 she placed second in the state with a 36.7 all-around score at Level 8. She praised her parents for being there for her, as she has revised her goals, including her work on bars..
“Bars has never been a strong event for me,” said Johnson, who tied for second at FCIACS with a score of 9.15. “It is the event I practice the most. I’ll work this summer to improve my level as a gymnast.”