SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. (AFNS) --
(This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes
" series. These stories focus on individual Airmen, highlighting their Air Force story.)
Her journey was full of unknowns. She was thousands of miles from home and in a very unfamiliar land. As foreign as she felt, there was one 7-foot wide circle that made her feel right at home.
For Airman 1st Class Jessica Johnson, a 4th Aerospace Medicine Squadron public health technician, it was the moment she had long waited for. As she stepped into the circle, she remembered all the training, the blood, sweat and tears she had poured into preparing for this opportunity.
She grabbed her weapon of choice, mentally prepared herself and launched it downrange.
"11.44 meters," the official exclaimed.
The mark was good enough for Johnson to place second in the individual shot put competition during the 2015 Headquarters Aircom Inter-Nation Athletics Championship in Amsterdam, and contributed to the U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa women's team taking home the gold medal.
"My goal was to come in first place or throw over 12.5 meters, but I fell short of those," Johnson said. "I was disappointed in myself. The feeling of competing on that level is hard for me to describe. I'm truly blessed (that) I had the opportunity to represent the Air Force on that stage."
For years, Johnson has honed her skills in the sport, dating back to February 2009, when she was a sophomore in high school.
"I've always enjoyed sports," Johnson said. "I participated in a couple of different ones, but I wanted to try something new and challenging."
After joining the military, Johnson continued training for competition. In February 2015, she discovered the Air Force sports program and immediately upped her game.
"I began going to the gym more and more," Johnson said. "I performed weight training three to five times a week and threw four to six times each week, anywhere from one to two hours."
As part of the selection process, Johnson compiled statistics on her shot put performance and traveled to two track meets to compete, winning one of them in Washington D.C.
"It was refreshing to compete again after all these years," Johnson said. "After getting my feet wet at a couple of competitions, I knew this was the sport for me."
After applying for the USAFE-AFAFRICA team and spending months preparing, Johnson was selected for the team.
"The last time I competed was back in high school, which was more than four years ago," Johnson said. "I hadn't had adequate training since then."
When not competing or training, the public health technician is highly regarded by her co-workers.
"Johnson is goal-oriented and on track to achieve her goals," said Staff Sgt. Svetlana Alviar, the 4th AMDS community health NCO in charge and Johnson's supervisor. "As an Airman, she led a volunteer event which shows her commitment to growing her leadership skills and potential for doing greater things in the future."
Johnson now focuses on completing upgrade training, but afterward, she plans on competing in more events.
"I plan on applying for the Conseil International du Sport Militaire World Military Championship that takes place in South Korea at the end of this year," Johnson said. "After that, I'll apply for the World Class Championship program."
Although she is thousands of miles into her journey, Johnson's quest for the World Class Championships are just beginning.
"Throughout my life, my family has always been a strong foundation of support for me," Johnson said. "With them behind me, my drive for competing will never run out."