SPORTS

Canada's Jason Burnett confines stunts to the trampoline these days

08/03/2012 04:00 EDT | Updated 10/02/2012 05:12 EDT
LONDON - If you're one those movie-goers who watches credits all the way to the end, you might have seen the name of a Canadian Olympian in "Scott Pilgrim Versus The World."

"I stunt-doubled Michael Cera there," gymnast Jason Burnett says. "I'm in the first fight seen being exploded in a big fireball, flipping onto the stage. That's me. Watch the credits. You won't actually see my face or anything, but I'm in the credits."

The 2008 Olympic silver medallist in men's trampoline was also in a commercial for an orange drink around that time two years ago. Burnett wanted to get more work as a stuntman.

"After the movie I decided 'hey, I should make some sort of demo reel so I can get more work like this,' Burnett recalls. "In making the demo reel, I broke my leg.

"That's when any of that adrenaline-junkie stuff ended. I said 'let's pause that for two years. Let's focus on getting to the Olympics and doing well.'"

The 25-year-old's trampoline routines are dangerous enough. Burnett won silver in Beijing with the highest degree of difficulty in the men's field at 16.8.

The Nobleton, Ont., athlete has upped the ante for London. Burnett's preliminary routine Friday has a "DD" of 17.6. If he makes the final, it will be 18.2.

"Almost a winning solution last-time around, so I still plan on competing the hardest routine of the competition," Burnett declared.

A high-risk routine means it can go really well or very badly for Burnett. He's OK with that.

"Holding back is not really my style," he says. "The more I hold back, the more I think 'if I'm doing something easier, it needs to be perfect.' I start overthinking, but if something is so absolutely difficult, then my only option there is to give it my all, go blindly out there and push like there's no tomorrow.

"That works out in my favour sometimes."

The broken leg that kept him off the trampoline for the last six months of 2010 was the worst of several injuries Burnett has managed since 2008. He may have won a silver medal at the last Games, but he's taking the approach that he's not one of the favourites.

"I like the feeling of being the underdog and that Beijing reputation makes me think I'm one of the guys who should be medalling again, which is something I want to stay far away from," Burnett explains.

"This is really one of the first competitions I've been 100 per cent in over the last two years. I had six months off, had to struggle back to get to the top, so now people might underestimate me because I've been injured for so long.

"Mentally I feel like I could be considered an underdog again, so I use that to my advantage and I really like that feeling."

Burnett is in his third year of philosophy and religion studies at the University of Toronto. After the 2008 Olympics, he tried firefighting school, but decided it wasn't for him and finished a general arts diploma at Seneca College.

The gymnast has eclectic reading tastes that run to the classics. He took "Memoirs of Casanova", "Frankenstein", "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" and another book on Buddhism with him to Beijing.

Fittingly, he's brought the Sherlock Holmes series with him to London.

"I like the way he's deducing everything from the littlest tiniest clues," Burnett says. "I like the way it fits in with the philosophy degree I'm taking too.

"I've seen the movies. It's tough because every time I read the book all I can picture is Robert Downey Jr. I'm trying to get away from that because he's described as a tall, lanky, square-jaw person. It's not Robert Downey Jr. exactly."

For those who want to see more Burnett on screen, his YouTube page features the stunt in which he broke his leg. The video is not for the squeamish. It includes footage of his subsequent surgeries.

Rate it PG for "potentially gory" or "pretty gross".

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