Paralympic judoka Jonathan Drane to retire – at the age of 29

Jonathan Drane has announced his retirement. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.

Jonathan Drane has announced his retirement. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Jonathan Drane leaves a sport with his head held high – and with praise ringing in his ears.

The Norfolk judoka has decided to retire from the sport and is planning to go back to university to finish his course in social psychology.

Drane got into judo at the age of 13 'purely by chance'. He trained at the Kumo Judo Club in Diss, home club of two-time Olympian Colin Oates. At the age of 15 he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and credits judo with helping him get through his teenage years.

Drane is passionate about supporting people with ADHD and in 2014 he became a patron for the ADHD Foundation. He called for more young people with ADHD to get into sport – he credits judo with helping him deal with ADHD.

'I had a lot of behavioural problems when I was younger and a lot of frustration,' he said. 'Judo helped me socialise, gave me discipline, and it made me feel good about myself. Sport can be a great outlet for the energy people with ADHD have.'

Drane – who had also been a member of the British senior squad – had his own plumbing business before his eyesight deteriorated due to corneal dystrophy, diagnosed as part of a routine eye check in 2011.

In his first ever VI competition, Drane, fighting at under-73kg, won gold after winning every fight by ippon in an excellent display of fighting at the VI US Open in Colorado.

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In 2014 he secured the biggest result of his career when he won bronze at the 2014 IBSA World Championships in Colorado, USA, which all but secured his place at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, where he finished fifth at under-81kg.

He said: 'I'd like to thank British Judo for the great support and amazing opportunities they've given me over the last few years. Big thank you also to ParalympicsGB for the once-in-a-lifetime experience in Rio. It's something I won't ever forget.'

Ian Johns, Paralympic head coach, said: 'It has been a pleasure to have Jono as part of the VI Judo squad. He has been a fantastic ambassador for VI athletes in his attitude to training, his will to improve and the setting of new standards.

'He has been inspirational in ensuring that VI athletes are viewed as important as their Olympic team-mates. I am proud to say that I have coached Jono at the most prestigious event in his career. He will be a huge loss to the programme but his legacy will never be forgotten. He definitely has set the standard for all athletes that represent the GB VI squad for many years to come.'

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