Johnson back in Australian colours

Headshot of Cameron Newbold
Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
Sonja Johnson and Misty Isle Valentino compete at a recent event ahead of the Oceania Championships.
Camera IconSonja Johnson and Misty Isle Valentino compete at a recent event ahead of the Oceania Championships. Credit: Wayne Edwards/Waylib Photos

Great Southern farmer Sonja Johnson’s bid to represent Australia at a second Olympic Games has been boosted by her selection in Equestrian Australia’s team for the 2019 Oceania Championships next month.

Johnson was a silver medallist at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and has always flagged intentions to make the Australian team for another Olympics.

However, after missing out on the 2012 London games and 2016 Rio games, Johnson appears firmly back in the fold for the 2020 Tokyo games after being named in the eight-member Oceania Championship Senior Team this month.

The championships, held in Taupo, New Zealand from May 10-12, are a key component of the high-performance programs preparation for Tokyo. Johnson will team up with Misty Isle Valentino at her third Oceania Championships and was delighted to learn of her selection.

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“It’s an opportunity for me to get back into the Australian team,” she said.

“I still think back to standing on that podium in Beijing and wonder ‘how do I beat the bloody Germans?’. I’m delighted to have an Olympic silver, but it is still the wrong colour.”

The Olympic scoring format has been changed by the FEI ahead of Tokyo, and the Oceania Championships are only one of two events in the world that will run the new system.

Johnson and two younger riders hail from WA and will make their way across to the east at the end of this month ahead of a training camp on May 3.

The South Stirling resident said Misty Isle Valentino had all the attributes to be an Olympic Games horse. “Its now down to fine-tuning, making sure he’s fit and well and he’s well in himself,” the 51-year-old said.

“I believe this is the most complete event horse I’ve had.

“This horse is the best mover, and stunning to look at. Fingers crossed, he is very sound and has a magic work ethic.”

Johnson was in Tasmania this week, where she coaches every six to eight weeks, and will return home to prepare for the championships.

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