Catching up with Olympian Jonathan Horton

“It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish.” – Jonathan Horton

Success means sticking the landing. Just ask Olympic gymnast and Cypress Texan Jonathan Horton. He started gymnastics when he was 4 years old. He fondly remembers what led to his parents enrolling him in gymnastics class with a chuckle. He decided to go explore a store by himself during a shopping trip with his mom. They found Jonathan 25 feet above them after he had climbed a pole. His father suggested they enroll him in gymnastics, and the rest is history.

Fast forward to the 2008 Summer Olympics, and Jonathan won the silver medal on high bar. He is the 2010 all-around bronze medalist, and he is a two-time U.S. National all-around champion.

“Gymnasts have to be strong, flexible and they have to be fast learners,” he says.

What inspired him to pursue gymnastics at the competitive level was watching Carrie Strug stick the landing on her broken ankle during the vault routine at the 1996 Olympics.

“That moment shifted my mind. I knew what I wanted. I started rising up the competitive ranks and at 22 years old made the Olympic team,” he says.

Every day in training, he visualized the pressure of the Olympics to prepare for the real thing. He had to focus on the form and function of the moves he had practiced for years and trust his ability.

“it was 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. I had to work hard to wrap my head around the environment at the Olympics visualizing the lights and cameras and create the nervous energy in my head before the competition. And then I had to stick the landing.”

Sticking the landing does not necessarily mean placing with a medal. Jonathan has realized he has won valuable life lessons over the course of his career as an athlete. Landing on your feet armed with lessons is the real win.

“It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish,” he says.

He has applied many lessons learned during training as a gymnast in his daily life. Jonathan explains it is important to remember the fundamentals in everything you do, and one’s level of success is not a determining factor of how far they can go. He has learned opportunities are limitless when you have the right approach, and becoming skilled at something is a process. He warns people should not be a victim of our society, which cues us to be instantly gratified.

Jonathan currently works as a motivational speaker and part-time sports commentator for NBC. His first book, entitled If I Had Known, was released last month. You may have seen him on the television show American Ninja Warrior where he has competed for the past six years. The action-packed series follows competitors as they tackle a series of challenging obstacle courses in both city qualifying and city finals rounds across the States. Horton can add entrepreneur to his list of wins. He recently started a business called Ninja Coalition with his business partner, Daniel Gil, a fellow competitor on American Ninja Warrior.   

The company has created its own 50-by-20-foot mobile obstacle course that they ship around the country. You can book a Ninja and build up your organization. It is a fantastic team-building experience, and guests get to play on the full-scale course. They have hosted warriors ages 6 to 65. Features of the course are safe. People jump over water and giant airbags, and they stick the landing.

Jonathan Horton’s book, If I Had Known, is available on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram @JHorton11. Learn more at JonathanHorton.net and NinjaCoalition.com.