Johnson impresses in Adelaide with young horse

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
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Star equestrian competitor Sonja Johnson has declared her ambitions to represent Australia at next year’s FEI World Equestrian Games and beyond, after impressing at the Adelaide International 3-Day Event earlier this month.

After the disappointment of missing out on Olympic Games selection in Rio last year, Johnson has confirmed she wants to continue her international career — starting with the World Championships in Tryon, in the US, next September and then on to the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020.

The South Stirling farmer finished fifth in the CCI4* event at the Adelaide contest aboard young horse Misty Isle Valentino, sparking her renewed bid to represent Australia at a second Olympics.

“The world championships are in Tryon and all my focus is to get on to that team and two years after that is the Tokyo Olympics,” the 49-year-old said.

“Standing on a podium is addictive, I’ve had bronze and silver so I’d really like to stand on the middle one and hear the national anthem as the Australian flag is hoisted.

“That is what’s driving me to continue.”

There were mixed emotions for Johnson in Adelaide after horse Parkiarrup Illicit Liaison, which she was also competing with, injured a hock and had to retire with ligament damage during the cross country.

“I had the youngest and oldest horse in the field,” Johnson said.

“It was and an up-and-down weekend with some brilliant moments and then poor old Benny injuring himself, but thankfully he is recovering and feeling happy and well back home.

“My young horse was just a little immature in the dressage, his cross country was unbelievably good and he was up to third heading into the showjumping.

“I screwed up and rode showjump really bad and he finished fifth as a result. But I’m really excited for the future, I think he is a world championship and Olympic Games horse.”

Misty Isle Valentino is now qualified for the world championships and Johnson said it was a matter of impressing selectors at events in 2018 both here in Australia and abroad against fellow national team hopefuls, to justify her being picked by Australian selections.

Five competitors will earn a berth at the world championships, four on a team and one individual.

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