INJURED war veteran Jon Flint and his canine partner Varick have shot to fame for the second time in two years.
Former Lance Corporal Jon Flint, 39, from West Sussex, took centre stage at the closing ceremony of the Paralympic Games in 2012 alongside Varick – the only assistance dog involved in the ceremony.
Last week he was back in the limelight as part of Team GB’s archery team at the Invictus Games, less than a year after picking up a bow for the first time.
He met Prince Harry, who launched the international competition for wounded servicemen after being inspired by a similar initiative in America.
Jon, who suffered permanent spinal injuries in an abseiling accident while serving with the Royal Marines in 1996, made it through to the quarter-finals of the shoot-offs before the public event on Friday. He was knocked out by the archer who went on to win the silver medal.
His coach, Colin Stopher, who trains Jon at the Bowmen of Petersfield Club, told the Observer: “The margins are so very tight at that stage and Jon was just unlucky. But he has great potential and I am very proud of him.”
There was further excitement for Jon when he was spotted at the games by the Paralympic coach of the Archery GB team.
“He asked him to go for a talent-spotting day which could mean a place in the Paralympic squad for Rio,” said Colin.
He said Jon had been shooting for less than a year and using his compound bow for only around four months. Help for Heroes organised an event designed to get wounded, injured or sick service personnel and veterans back into competitive and rehabilitive sport at Tedworth House last July where Colin met Jon.
“I could see he had potential and when I discovered where he lived, I asked him if he would like to come along to the Petersfield club and I started coaching him then,” said Colin.
Jon was able to buy his present bow with a grant from Help for Heroes and then gained a place in the training squad.
Jon said: “Colin has been helping me a lot with my technique and spent a lot of time with me to help get ready for the games. I really enjoyed the games, it was a fantastic experience.”