How a carpenter and a doctor made Jono Milne a Paralympian


Before 2012, Jonathon ‘Jono’ Milne had never broken a bone. 

This was despite his prior endeavours in motocross and biking, but it was a surfing accident 12 years ago that changed his life.

What sparked Milne’s recovery from a broken neck was a fellow hospital patient he spent time with during rehab.

“He was a carpenter same as me,” Milne explained. “He was helping a mate build a deck, just packing up at the end of the day, tripped over an extension lead, fell through the temporary handrail and fell off the second storey balcony.”

“He was complete (paralysed) so, no arm function, no nothing... I didn’t hear him complain once. I thought he’d do anything to be in my position and he’s not complaining about anything so, I’ll keep my mouth shut.”

Milne’s get on with it attitude turned him into a Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and Pilsen 2023 World Archery Para Championships individual bronze medallist, and he won another world medal with compound men’s open team silver in Dubai 2022.

Australian compound men won team bronze at Yecheon 2024 Hyundai Archery World Cup.

The 38-year-old’s most recent success however came in Yecheon, Korea where he was a part of Australia’s surprising bronze medal compound men’s team win in the second stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup, archery’s premier international circuit.

It was the first international able-bodied medal of Milne’s career and made him only the third para archer to have ever won a World Cup medal following USA’s Kevin Polish and Italy’s Alberto Simonelli.

“It was a little bit of a surprise knowing the level and watching the events on TV, knowing the level we’ve got to shoot at and being able to do it on the day,” said Milne, who along with Bailey Wildman and Brandon Hawes defeated India via a shoot-off to win the bronze. 

“I know I’ve shot scores that can win it, but at that level you don’t get away with anything, you must be on ball every single match. It’s just one of those things where it comes down to who’s not going to make a mistake.”

Yecheon also became the home of Milne’s best individual World Cup finish by getting into the second round (17th overall), narrowly losing 140-143 to European Indoor champion Shamai Yamrom.

Jono Milne was a Paralympic bronze medallist in Tokyo.

The Sydney born archer not only believes his success in Korea reflects his dedication since he switched to archery full-time four years ago but mental changes he’s made.

“I caught myself doing it at a ranking tournament here, where I’d shoot a bad shot and then in my next one, I’d try harder to shoot a 10 and that would nosedive the score.”

“I worked out at home if I shoot an eight, it doesn’t matter I’ll just keep focusing on the next arrow and go through my process of what I know to shoot an arrow in the middle.”

“Once I started doing that, the scores started to roll in.”

Milne will be hoping the scores continue to roll this summer at the Paris 2024 Paralympics.

He is hungry to make amends of a disappointing campaign in Tokyo three years ago but revealed he is currently dealing with an elbow injury.

“I’m playing this little balancing act now, where I still want to get the volume in but, I don’t want to do enough that it’s going to flare this elbow up and make it a problem so, I’ve been getting a bit of physio and a few things done to get it under wraps.”

On the archery side of the ‘balancing act’ Milne said he is preparing specifically for matches in Paris not only individually but in team circumstances.

For the first time, Australia could have a compound mixed team competing in a Paralympic Games with the nation having two women quotas. 

“I’m a lot more focused on match play stuff now,” he explained. “I know I can always shoot a decent ranking round but, if you shoot a world record but can’t get above 147s consistently in match play then, you’re probably getting knocked out at this level.”

“Gold’s always the plan.”

If Milne’s plan comes to fruition, then it would cap a remarkable comeback from that fateful day in 2012.

Not only that but it would be a point proven by the Australian who was once told he was permanently paralysed.

“It was also a bit of a middle finger to the doctor,” said Jono. “When they first did my scans in hospital, he told my family that I’d never walk again and that I’d never had full arm function again.”

“It was more of a ‘I’m going to prove you wrong here.’”

Should Milne be successful this summer, it will have been a carpenter’s tale and a doctor’s ill advice that initiated the determined Australian’s remarkable journey into becoming Paralympic Champion.