Senior Aircraftman Jon-Allan Butterworth was 16 when he joined the Royal Air Force as an armourer.
In 2007 he was posted to Iraq and stationed in Basra working for Joint Force Helicopter on countermeasures.
Two and a half months into his tour of duty he was wounded in a rocket attack and, following a major arterial bleed that left him close to death, he lost his left arm.
Whilst at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court in November 2007, he attended the Battle Back programme at Loughborough University.
His abilities and potential drew the attention of British Cycling scouts and he was given trials at the Welsh National Velodrome in Newport.
After leaving the RAF, he was offered a year’s contract by the GB Paralympic Development Squad in 2009 and began racing in 2010.
Jon-Allan was backed from the start by the Royal Air Forces Association, who have supported him since 2009, including more than £4,500 a year in sponsorship. Finding sponsorship as an unproven cyclist was proving almost impossible for Jon-Allan and it looked like he may not be able to realise his cycling potential until the RAF Association stepped in.
Jon-Allan is now looking forward to the 2016 Paralympic Games in 2016.
October 2010 saw success in the Open National Championships where he competed against able-bodied and disabled cyclists and he won both the 1km and 200m TT making him National Champion in both sections, as well as the New World Record Holder in the 200m.
The following year he won the World Para-Cycling Championships in Italy with gold in the men’s C5 kilo (1km) event and set a new world record with a time of 1 minute 7.615 seconds, taking the title from team-mate Mark Bristow. It was a phenomenal success for an athlete so relatively new to competitive cycling at this level.
In March 2012, the former SAC set another world record at the 2012 UCI Paracycling Track World Championships in Los Angeles, in a nail biting race for top place.
Following his World Championships success, Jon-Allan was selected as part of the Paralympics GB Squad for London 2012. At his very first Paralympic Games, he stormed to success winning three silver medals. First was in the 1km Individual Time Trial, where he was beaten by the smallest of margins by the experienced Spanish rider, Alfonso Cabello. Then he won silver in the 4km Individual Pursuit and finally a third silver in the Mixed Team Sprint.
Cycling has changed Jon-Allan’s life in every way possible and has given him a way of life that he couldn’t have imagined. The RAF Association has been proud to support him every step of the way and will continue to do so as he look ahead to the next Paralympic Games in Rio, in 2016.
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