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Rio proves to be final bow after Drane opts to retire

CALLING TIME: Paralympian Jonathan Drane has decided to retire from judo
CALLING TIME: Paralympian Jonathan Drane has decided to retire from judo

Paralympian Jonathan Drane has called time on his judo career with immediate effect.

The 29-year-old, who learned his trade at the North Lopham Kumo Judo Club, finished fifth in the -81kg at this year’s Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.

But, rather than look to improve upon that showing in 2020 at the Toyko Games, Drane feels that he will never be able to replicate his experiences in Brazil.

“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,” he said in a statement.

“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.”

Meanwhile, Paralympic head coach Ian Johns said of Drane, who was a plumber with his own business before his eyesight deteriorated due to Corneal Dystrophy — prompting his switch to VI judo: “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.”

Aside from his Paralympic appearance, Drane’s career will also be remembered for the bronze medal that he clinched two years ago at the IBSA World Championships in Colorado — a result that all but booked his place in the Team GB squad for Rio.

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