Abbey Archery's Jonathon Milne off to Rio Paralympics
June 4th 2016. Paralympian Jonathon Milne talked to Shannon Byrne on ABC Grandstand about discovering Archery and going to Rio. Listen to Jonathon on ABC Grandstand.
August 2016: Sydney, Australia.
Jonathon Milne is one of 4 children with an older brother and two younger sisters. He was born and raised in Mulgoa, at the foot of the Blue Mountains, (some 50 kilometres or 31 miles from Castle Hill) where his whole family lives, parents, grand parents, aunts and uncles and cousins. (If you are using Internet Explorer or Firefox as your browser, hover your cursor over each image to read the photo captions)
From an early age, he liked to build things. His Grand Dad has always been involved in the building trade and this sparked Jonathon's interest.
He was exposed to all trades, where he spent 6 months at carpentry, electrical, plumbing, concreting, earthmoving and finally settled on carpentry and soon carved out a successful career. Owing to Jonathon's height of 6 foot 9 inches or 205.74cm, he was the logical choice to erect timber frames and being extremely strong, he often performed installations without the need of a ladder or another tradesman to assist. He earned a reputation of a strong work ethic, being able to erect a house frame in no time at all.
He met his wife, Sarah through a mutual friend and they married in November 2011. Jonathon was on holidays at Avoca Beach with Sarah over Christmas 2012 and he went for a surf where he had a mishap when his forehead clipped a sand bank and his head snapped back and he lay face down in the water. Sarah noticed what had occurred and dragged Jonathon from the surf. He was taken by medivac helicopter to Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards (some 84 kms or 52 miles away) and underwent 8 hours of surgery and then spent 3 weeks in intensive care. He was transferred to Ryde Rehabilitation Centre, Ryde for further treatment for the next 4 months. He attended daily physio sessions to re-activate and improve his muscles. Jonathon had no feeling or movement from the chest down and had to be strapped into a wheelchair for a month to achieve better balance and to ensure he stayed in his wheelchair.
He wanted to do a sport that he could use with his upper body and looked at tennis but just did not enjoy it and about a month after his accident, Jonathon took up archery. He quickly got his eye in and was shooting very well, something that normally takes up to 6 months to achieve. After 5 months, he was assessed by his physio specialist as not needing to undertake any more sit and drawing course as he had regained enough function in his right leg.
It was not long before Jonathon was regularly coming into Abbey Archery to buy bits and pieces as he had plenty of time on his hands. He soon caught the attention of Abbey staff with his knowledge of archery and his ability to tune bows. Jonathon later revealed that he spent time on forums, researching, reading and gaining knowledge of his new found love of archery.
He impressed staff so much that Jonathon was offered a job at Abbey Archery to which he gladly accepted. Induction usually takes some time as there are systems to grasp, procedures to follow and how would Jonathon get around our warehouse when he looked for products for customers. Jonathon quickly settled in and became a valuable member of our staff. He was a natural on the phone, behind the counter, giving advice in our store and over the phone and his real forte of answering emails. Often new archers email us with a question and Jonathon cuts right to the chase and solves their problem and in the process, makes new friends who could work on the land, in a mine or on an oil well platform. His matter of fact style suits archers who are needing straight forward advice.
Soon after joining Abbey, Jonathon Milne became a staff shooter and has admirably represented the company at local, national and international events. Up until recently, Jonathon coached young archers and was happy to impart his knowledge and to show them his techniques. At the present time, he has put coaching on hold so that he fully focuses on the task at hand.
Jonathon, who will be competing in the Rio Paralympics in September 2016, was selected by the Australian Paralympics committee to represent Australia at Rio. He is the first Australian to qualify in Paralympic archery since the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens and Australia has not won a medal in the sport at the Paralympic Games since the 1984 Summer Paralympics in New York, USA/Stoke Mandeville UK.
Jonathon has been putting in the hard yards, travelling with minimal government funding to Donaueschingen in Germany in August 2015 for the World Archery Para Championships (placed 4th), to Victoria (850kms or 530 miles) to compete in the Australian Para Championships which he has won back-to-back in 2015 and again in 2016, the National Match Play Final in Adelaide (1350kms or 840 miles) where he was placed 2nd behind able-bodied archer Pat Coghlan, World Cup legs in Shanghai, China in April 2016 and Antalya, Turkey in June 2016 as well as competing in various Australian qualifying rounds to gain match fitness and exposure to world competition.
He has performed extremely well and has won some events and equalled his personal best (PB) and set a new PB of 694 in the same event, all against able-bodied archers, which makes it pretty exceptional. His training at the NSW Institute of Sport involves weights, conditioning, psychological counselling as well as shooting whenever he can. Jonathon trains 3 days per week with his coach, now that the intensity is building up for the Paralympics, however that training is increasing even more as Rio draws near.
Jonathon is a great inspiration to people as he has never complained, always has a bright, cheery attitude and never flinches at going that extra mile at work or at training. On behalf of everyone at Abbey Archery and his friends near and far, we wish Jonathon all the very best and no matter what happens at Rio, we know he will have tried with all his might. Good luck Jonathon.