Australia’s Milne prepped to build on bronze at second Paralympic Games
Jonathon Milne counts himself as one of the fortunate few who have had constant access to an ideal training space during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While nearly all his teammates and competitors have struggled to effectively prepare for the postponed Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, Australia’s first para archery medallist in more than three decades is even more confident in his preparations after spending much of the past year refining his skills.
“I was really lucky that I have a family friend who has a rather large factory unit, about four acres undercover, up in Warragamba, which is about half an hour from my place,” said Milne, who was announced as the first member of the Australian para team for Tokyo on Tuesday.
“It’s indoors, perfect lighting, perfect conditions and I could just go in there and shoot for as long as I wanted. There were times I’d be shooting at 11 o’clock at night. If I had stuff on during the day, I’d go up in the afternoon and shoot until late at night, lock up and go home.”
“So I literally went through the whole of lockdown as one of the only people in Australia who had somewhere to shoot. I actually got better during lockdown while most others went backwards.”
Milne made waves in Australia when he won bronze in the compound men’s open event at Rio 2016 – taking his country’s first podium finish in the para archery events at the Games since New York in 1984.
Thanks to his fortunate circumstances, he feels even better equipped to improve upon his success when he arrives in Tokyo.
Australian para coach Ricci Cheah kept track of Milne’s training scores and provided analysis through a video conferencing app that connects athletes with their support teams. The outcome has been an encouraging run of training in which Milne consistently submitted potentially medal-winning scores.
“I just compared my scores to what the current world record is,” he said. “The perfect score is 720. If you can break 700, that’s normally a really good day. In training all last year, I was doing it almost every single day. If I didn’t break 700, I’d had a bad day. So I know I’m generally above that 700 mark – and that’s where I need to be.”
The upcoming Paralympics will be different for the 35-year-old. He’s no longer an unknown.
“After the last Games, a lot more people knew my name. Everyone wants to beat the person who’s won a Paralympic medal,” Milne said. “But that just gave me more motivation to keep pushing through, it gave me a bit more burn to work harder.”
The archery competitions at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games start on 27 August 2021.