Miranda Johnson, SJC veterinary technician student competes in the Highland Games World Championships in Switzerland.

SJC student Miranda Johnson competes in the Highland Games World Championships

Miranda Johnson, a current veterinary technician student, is taking it to the next level as a competitor in the Highland Games World Championships this August. Johnson qualified for and was invited to participate in the Highland Games World Championships this year in Switzerland, but it wasn’t the competition for which she was originally training. Johnson was injured at work last year while she was training for the Mt. Taylor Winter Quadrathlon, an event that involves biking, skiing, snowshoeing and running. “I’m a large animal veterinary assistant,” says Johnson. “I had an unfortunate encounter with a very large warmblood horse that doesn’t like surprises. His hoof tried to occupy the same space as my foot. I sustained a foot injury that sidelined me with months of rehabilitation and ultimately halted my quadrathlon training.”

Johnson does not let injury slow her down

“True athletes of any kind are impossible to successfully sideline,” continues Johnson. “I found an outlet through the Highland Games that allowed me to continue being active within the limitations of my injury. The San Diego Highland Games sent a reminder that the event was coming up, and I was determined to find a way to throw rocks and heavy things. It seemed like a productive and safe way to manage my frustration from my injury.” Johnson took part in the Rio Grande Valley Celtic Festival in May and the games in Costa Mesa earlier this summer.

Caber tossing explained

She is a Caber tosser. A tosser has to balance a caber upright and then release the caber so that it lands successfully in the straight vertical position. Caber tossers start by balancing a large pole upright, called a caber on their shoulder. They then crouch down, sliding the caber into their cupped hands, where they then lift it  in their cupped hands, taking a few steps and tossing the caber. If the toss goes well, the caber will fall directly away from the tosser. Caber tossing requires strength and stamina. After her training for the Highland Games began, Johnson discovered an amazing community of people. “They are not only some of the most fun and amazing humans I know,” says Johnson. “This community, as a whole, is so supportive and encouraging. We all compete individually and yet, while we strive and push to crush our opponents, we also cheer and root for our opponents to crush us. It’s a truly amazing environment and I am so grateful.” Johnson will travel to Switzerland to compete at the Master’s level in caber tossing, for those over 40 years of age. The Highland Games World Championships are held somewhere new every year. Previous locations have been in Canada, Texas, Iceland and the Netherlands