Jono Milne dived through a wave. He could feel his feet on the sand as he tried to come up, but his feet couldn’t move. He knew his life had changed forever.
Milne broke his neck at the New South Wales beach of Avoca on December 23, 2012. On February 10, 2024, there are 200 days to go until the opening ceremony of the Paris Paralympics, where the 38-year-old archer is hoping to become a Paralympic gold medallist.
”I like the focus side of things and the mental side of archery,” Milne tells Wide World of Sports.
“Anyone can pull the bow back and shoot it, but I’ve been able to have the mind strength to focus on what the shot feels like and how the tension is. Controlling the mind is the hard part with archery. I like the determination to sit there and figure it out and go, ‘Why isn’t it working how I want it to? What do I need to do to get it how I want?’.”
By the end of this week, Milne will have shot about 700 arrows. The two-time Paralympian usually fires about a thousand a week — some in his garage in Avoca and some at Homebush, on the same range that hosted the Sydney 2000 Olympics and Paralympics — but he’s dealing with tennis elbow.
The former carpenter also makes a living out of archery: earning his dough through coaching, importing and re-selling gear, and helping people maintain their equipment.
“It’s also a bit of a meditation type thing,” Milne says, detailing his obsession with the ancient sport.
“If you’re having a bad day, the second you pick up that bow and start focusing on what you need to do to be accurate, everything else just disappears. You’re spending so much mental energy on focusing on trying to perfect that shot that you don’t have time to think about anything else.”