When Jon-Allan lost his left arm serving in Iraq with the RAF, he had no idea he’d end up representing his country in the Paralympics. While this is his first time at the Games, he’s no stranger to success with a range of World Championship medals and two world records to his name too.
I tried cycling at a sports day put on by Paralympics GB, where you try different sports out. GB Cycling were the only ones that got back to me!
Of course, it all came into your life after your RAF career ended…
Yeah, I was hit by a rocket attack that landed inside the base and I lost my arm. The amputation’s just above the elbow. It was done at a Basra station opposite the hospital on that day. I miss all the people, just the comradeship of the RAF. Cycling offers something different – it does give me something to focus on.
You’ve only been cycling since 2009 but you’ve got yourself a couple of world records already. How does it feel being told you’ve got a new record?
Pretty awesome! It’s really hard to describe the feeling. In a way, for me, the records mean more than medals because if you win a world title, then you’re world champion for a year and you can go back and do it again. The record can last longer.
How do you feel about competing in your home country?
It’s pretty good! As well as being my home Games, it’s my first ever Games. It’s pretty big.
How much training are you doing at the moment?
It’s a six day-a-week programme, but sometimes you have a 10-day cycle – it’s almost like an overload system! Training-wise, it varies. The other day I did five-and-a-half hours on the bike. It depends on whether you’re doing quality training or just quantity. The average week, for riding, I would say probably more towards 25 hours. It’s a full-time job really.
What do you do when you’re not training?
I used to do stuff from motorbike track days to snowboarding, generally quite active. For the last two years though, I’ve just been doing nothing – I can’t really risk any injuries in the lead up to the Games.
Where do you hope your cycling career takes you?
I want to try to win gold in any of my events at the Paralympics Games. After that, I think I’m just going to re-evaluate it, have some time off. As long as I enjoy cycling, I’ll keep doing it.