Australia’s Milne takes Paralympic bronze
Jonathon Milne, Australia’s sole para archer in the Rio 2016 Paralympics, said his focus was on enjoying the sport and bringing more interest to para archery in Australia.
A bronze medal in the compound men’s open will do just that.
“Hopefully with the three Aussie guys [the Olympic team] winning a medal and me winning a medal, hopefully they might realise there might be a few more medals in it for us,” the 30-year-old archer, who’s been shooting since just 2013, said.
“Archery’s not as popular in Australia as it is in the rest of the world.”
Milne was the first Australian archer in 12 years to qualify for the Paralympics.
He’s Australia’s first medallist at the event since 1984, when Ian Trewhalla took two silver medals in the men's double advanced metric round tetraplegic and men’s short metric round team 1A–6 events. (Both are now long retired from Paralympic competition.)
Milne was seeded ninth in Rio. He’s had limited experience competing against other para archers because of his travel budget, but he finished fourth at the Donaueschingen 2015 World Archery Para Championships.
He avenged that bronze medal match loss from Germany during the second round of eliminations. It was Great Britain’s John Stubbs who beat Milne for the bronze in 2015. In Rio he won, 137-129.
“Now I have my revenge,” Milne said. “It was a bit of deja vu.”
Milne went on to defeat top-seeded Bulent Korkmaz of Turkey, a match that went down to the final arrow.
“My last arrow in the match against Bulent was one of the hardest arrows I ever shot,” Milne said. “I knew that I needed a 10 to win.”
Milne did his best to stay consistent all day, acting as if he was still practising – and going though his normal routine. He focused on making strong shots, no matter the distractions – and he had given his fan club strict orders to not cheer him on until he was done shooting.
His 15 family and friends in attendance obliged.
“I can zone out everything,” Milne said. “But if I hear someone’s voice that I know, that will lose my focus, and that could mean the difference between a nine or a 10, a win or a loss.”
The focus worked, as Milne finished the Rio bronze medal match with a perfect 30 to secure his bronze medal. He hopes the result will motivate others to pursue para archery, the sport that gave him focus after a surfing accident left him paralysed from the chest down.
“The doctors told me when I had my injury that I'd never walk again,” Milne said.
“I've never been one to just sit down and take what someone says. If someone says I can't do something, I'm gonna go out there and try and prove them wrong. And I know I can compete with the best guys in the world. I’ve got quite a few years in me left to compete as well.”
The para archery competition at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games runs 10-17 September in the Sambodromo.