Jonathan's AFO story

High jump star Jonathan gets a spring in his step with custom AFO

Paralympic silver medallist Jonathan Broom-Edwards has enlisted the help of Ottobock to assist him in his recovery from a major injury to win gold in Tokyo.

Jonathan, 30, who trains at the National Performance Institute in Loughborough, won silver in the T44 category high jump in Rio in 2016, just three years after making his international debut. Last year, his preparations to go one better in Tokyo and win gold were curtailed when he suffered an Achilles tendon rupture in his left leg, which was already impaired by talipes equinovarus – otherwise known as club foot.

The rupture occurred at the top of the tendon where scar tissue from surgery he’d had as a child had accumulated. He had no prior warning it was going to happen.

Almost a year to the day of his surgery to repair the damage, Jonathan is now getting the spring back in his step with a carbon fibre custom AFO (ankle-foot orthosis), which will aid him in his continued recovery and with his training.

The AFO will help restore some of the propulsion Jonathan lacks due to his impairment as well as that lost through the injury, aiding him in the crucial take-off part of his jump.

Jonathan, who also has Ottobock orthotic insoles to stabilise his feet in his everyday shoes, is hoping that, with the help of his AFO he’ll be able to get back to his PB height of 2m 15cms and beyond, which he achieved in 2014 just a year after getting his national Paralympic classification in the sport.

Formerly a basketball player, Jonathan took up high jump as something to do in the summer season when not on court. He found he had a talent for it, and in 2010 won silver at British Universities (BUCS) Championships, representing Loughborough University.

He didn’t take up the sport again until after the London 2012 Paralympics. During his high jumping in 2010, a sports massage therapist spotted Jonathan for his impairment and got him in contact with the British Athletics, Para team head coach, Paula Dunn. This set the ball rolling and in 2013, Jonathan was classified for international competition.

Five years on and Jonathan is in a strong training environment which promises to bring out the best in his performance. With the help of his main high jump technical coach, Graham Ravenscroft, as well as a running coach (Michael Baker) and a strength and conditioning coach (Rob Miller), Jonathan seeks to go one better for the upcoming World Championships in Dubai 2019 and for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

“I’ve never felt better than I do now, thanks to my coaching and medical team, and my surgeon of course, Bill Ribbons,” said Jonathan. “And now I have this AFO which is really going to help me get ready for the Paralympics. I’d like to compete with it but it will need to be ratified by the governing body and that will take some time. Hopefully for the Paris Paralympics in 2024.”

Ottobock Academy clinician Jana Middlebrook, who helped create Jonathan’s AFO, said: “It has been great working with Jonathan, not only has he got great positivity but with his background in soft tissue therapy he really knows what his body requires.”

“The AFO has to meet the challenges of repetitive curved sprints and explosive take offs, all the time, stabilising the foot and working in as similar way as possible to the non-affected side. I am excited to see how the next year of training progresses for him as Tokyo approaches.”