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Stratford rugby player overcomes traumatic injury and now aiming for Paralympics

PARIS is the target for Jon Tarrant from Stratford who overcame a traumatic rugby injury which led to the amputation of his lower leg in 2018 but who is now challenging for a place in Team GB for the Paralympics next year.

Jon’s is a story of true inspiration following a below knee amputation after he suffered the injury while playing rugby for Stratford 1st XV in November 2017.

Jon in action in Nottingham. Photo: AE Photos/British Canoeing
Jon in action in Nottingham. Photo: AE Photos/British Canoeing

Lying in his hospital bed he had to come to terms with the realisation he’d played his last game of rugby and while there was a period of semi-recovery, he was back in hospital in September 2018 to undergo the operation.

Rugby colleagues, family and friends rallied and fund-raised for him in order to pay for a prosthetic leg because he was determined that if he wasn’t able to play rugby again he was certainly going to do some sort of sport and it turned out to be kayaking.

Jon – now aged 34 – told the Herald: “A prosthetic limb has to be bespoke to the user and have a specific purpose in mind. I knew that my form had not fully developed playing rugby there was still a lot of energy expenditure left so I wanted to make sure I could go to the gym and I definitely wanted to try another sport.”

In late summer 2019 he was offered the opportunity to attend the LimbPower Games held at Stoke Mandeville where amputees can take part in all kinds of sports like para tennis, canoeing and climbing.

The games were also where Jon met Attila Herbent of Royal Leamington Spa Canoe Club whosesport of choice was kayaking, and his particular enthusiasm was to find athletes with disabilities that he could develop for Paracanoe in association British Canoeing.

Jon was invited to attend kayak training sessions at the Leamington Canoe Club and these sessions rapidly increased from three to five a week. Not only had he found a new sport he was to prove very successful at it.

“I succeeded in achieving a suitably fast time that I was allowed to compete at a national level representing Royal Leamington Spa Canoe club across four regattas in 2021. My rapid development attracted the attention of the British Canoeing HQ at Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham and they approached me to offer an academy place on their World Class Program in 2022. Later that year I made my international debut at the Poznan World Cup before going on to finish sixth at the European Championships in Munich,” he said.

When he’s not in the water and back in Stratford, Jon coached Stratford 2nd XV team and also Stratford Ladies’ touch rugby team where he was to meet his fiancée, Katherine.

“I was asked to step in for a few training sessions for the ladies’ team at the end of which I was invited to a social night at Aladdin’s in Tiddington and sat next to Katherine and we started talking. We got engaged in 2022 and the wedding is now booked for this October,” Jon said.

Before then, he’s the got the World Championships in Duisburg, Germany over the August bank holiday weekend which if things go his way, could see him become one of a small number of athletes vying for a place in the GB Paris Paralympics squad next year but there still another selection process to be completed.

The Paralympics is the sort of challenge Jon just relishes as he did every time he played rugby. He acknowledges that at the time of the injury he had to contemplate a lot of life changing decisions – so had did he get through it all?

“My philosophy has always been the sun is still going to rise in the morning so you better find something to do with a new day. There are lots of charities out there that can help and I’m really proud to see disability sport on the agenda. You don’t have to be disabled though, if you want to do something – just go for it,” Jon said.

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