Joshua has the jump on a future Games role
By IAN MONAGHAN
COMMITMENT to sport calls for plenty of adjustment.
In the case of national showjumping champion Joshua Jones, 14, from Knockrow, it has meant a total change in schooling ... and that's just for starters.
The seven-times champion rider at the Royal Easter Show was spending at least 10 weeks out of the school year following the competition circuit along the East Coast, from Canberra to Rockhampton.
The drain on time devoted to attending school resulted in the family enroling Joshua in a distance education program, allowing more flexibility in the mix of schooling and sport. It's all part of a campaign to compete at international/Olympic levels.
Those aims were given a boost when Joshua linked with coach Ron Easey, who represented Australia at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Joshua has amassed an astounding record since beginning competition at the age of seven ? to the point where he is considered one of Australia's most successful junior competitors in the showring.
At this year's Sydney Royal Easter Show, he was named champion rider for Under-17s, a feat which he repeated at the more recent Brisbane Royal Show.
He made the transition to showjumping last year and has a team of four showjumpers.
Joshua has just returned from two major showjumping competitions.
He competed with two of his horses at the Australian Youth Showjumping Championships, which included some of the best riders from Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia.
Competing in the FEI Children's International Challenge, he won the A2 Showjumping Championship, as well as the Australian Junior A2 Championship, and placed third in the Australian Junior Grand Prix Championship.
The following weekend, the EFA NSW State Titles were held at Nowra.
Joshua was runner-up at the Junior State Championships, held over three showjumping competitions, up against competitors five years his senior.
He also won the Open 1.2-metre height class title (open competition against adults) and placed 3rd in the Open 1.1m height class showjumping.
In early September, he competed at Gold Coast Show, where he placed first and second in the Junior Championship, second in the Open D Grade. (Incidentally, he was only beaten by Tim Armitrano, who represented Australia in the Athens Olympics).
He recently acquired sponsorship from Mitavite, an Australian feed company.
AT the age of 11, Joshua's undeniable skills earned him a role as a stunt double for Thomas Curtis in the US movie The Outsider, starring Naomi Watts. The stunt co-ordinator Danny Baldwin relied on the youngster to ride a clydesdale bareback, drive a horse and cart and stand in front of a herd of 70 stampeding cattle.
Obviously no stranger to new experiences in the equine world, Joshua recently sat for a special licence allowing him to do trackwork for Ballina-based racing trainer Stephen Lee.