Jonathan Drane targets Paralympic medal after rollercoaster year

Jonathan Drane during the announcement of the Rio 2016 Paralympics Judo squad at the University of W

Jonathan Drane during the announcement of the Rio 2016 Paralympics Judo squad at the University of Wolverhampton, Walsall. David Davies/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

From knee reconstruction surgery just 18 months ago, to competing at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games next month, Jono Drane, has had a rollercoaster couple of years.

The 29-year-old judoka will make his Paralympic debut in Rio, in the -81kg category, but already has a world championships bronze medal to his name, from 2014.

Formerly a plumber, Drane attended London 2012 as a training partner for the competing athletes, but is now all set to take his Paralympic bow, less than two years after an anterior cruciate ligament injury threatened his career.

'To come back has been a mental adventure for me,' said Drane, who hails from the same Kumo Judo Club as Colin Oates in North Lopham. 'As momentum builds up there are anxieties about whether you will come back fit.

'But I think it's the best thing that has ever happened to me. Elements of my judo which needed improving would never have been addressed if it hadn't been for the injury.

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'I've become a lot more professional, been able to look after my body a lot better, and even just my understanding of the sport was something I used to take for granted and don't anymore.'

Drane, who has a visual impairment, is being sent to Rio by the British Paralympic Association, which is a registered charity responsible for funding, selecting and managing the ParalympicsGB team.

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Rio is expected to be the most competitive Paralympic Games ever but Drane is refusing to set himself targets or get carried away with thoughts of a medal.

'The journey has certainly been rocky. People want your expectations to be a medal, but in such a highly-competitive sport, the only thing I can do is compete as hard as possible and see where that leads me,' added the judoka.

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