Rio Paralympian and World Championship bronze medallist Jonathan ‘Jono’ Drane has announced his retirement from judo. The 29-year-old from Norfolk made his decision after taking some time away from the sport after the Rio Paralympic Games, where he came fifth at -81kg.
“I had a bit of time off after the Games and looked at the fact that, with the injuries and the brief stint in the Wellness clinic, everything I put into the last year and a half, I can’t ever match that.
“The main thing is if I was to do another cycle I’d be chasing social recognition. I’ve done everything I possibly can in the last cycle to get to where I was and regardless of results, everything went into it and we sometimes lose sight of the fact that things are relative. Everything is focused on the medals but the essential thing is that if you feel you put everything into it, that’s all that matters.
“For one day in my small world that I live in with my family and friends, I was a superstar, and there’s very few people who get to do that. It’s a very rich existence on my behalf and I wouldn’t be doing that if I stayed on. I’d be chasing other people’s external validation and I don’t think anybody should do that.”
Ian Johns, Paralympic Head Coach, said:
“It has been a pleasure to have Jono as part of the VI Judo squad since my appointment as the head coach in 2015. 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.”
Drane got into judo at the age of 13 “purely by chance”. He trained at Kumo Judo Club in Norwich, home club of two-time Olympian Colin Oates. At the age of 15 he was diagnosed with ADHD and he credits judo with helping him get through his teenage years. He is passionate about supporting people with ADHD and in 2014 he became a patron for the ADHD Foundation.
Jono was a plumber with his own business before his eyesight deteriorated due to Corneal Dystrophy, diagnosed as part of a routine eye check in 2011. The Norwich judoka had also been a member of the British senior squad before moving over to VI Judo.
In his first ever VI competition, Jono (fighting at -73kg) clinched a pretty impressive victory, seizing gold after winning every fight by ippon in an excellent display of fighting at the VI US Open in Colorado. 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.
Drane is now planning on going back to university to finish his course in Social Psychology and has mentioned a possible trip to Tibet sometime in the future.
“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.”
Nigel Donohue, British Judo Performance Director, praised Jono’s contribution to the World-Class Performance Programme and VI Judo during the Rio cycle:
“Jono has been a terrific ambassador for VI judo since he joined the squad and during the Rio cycle he showed what a world-class judoka he was. The way he battled back from a serious long-term knee injury to get to Rio is testament to his determination. We wish him all the best in his retirement.”
Check out some of Jono’s best moments from his time on the British Judo VI Squad below