From the Track to the Table
British Paralympian Jonathan Adams trades his shot-put for a cue stick.
Although British athlete Jonathan Adams competed at the 2012 London Paralympics in shot put, he has one particular off-the-field interest.
"I've always been interested in snooker, purely because when I was growing up I was always having to try and adapt my disability to what I was trying to achieve in my sport,” says Adams.
Adams says he’d watch other players to see how they adapted their games, which helped him improve his mental attitude toward the sport.
Snooker, or billiards as it’s known in the U.S., is the common term for the sport in the United Kingdom.
When he was younger, Adams, 20, had a six-foot table he’d spend hours on after school. Because of his disability, cerebral palsy, it was difficult for him to go outside and do things other kids were doing.
“So for me I found something that I was interested in such as snooker, and it really took off from there and I started to enjoy the technicality and skill of it,” says Adams. “Because in an individual sport like that, you've got to be able to channel yourself to one direction and one direction only. You can do all the practice in the world, but when you're out there on the field of play it's just you and the table; it's you and your competition.”
He says there's a significant mental side to sport, and that's why he loves it.
Adams’s parents influenced him to become involved in sport. His mom participated in discus and shot put, while his dad was involved in the fitness industry. They also were semi-professional body builders.
“To have support like that helps you to remember the people who have impacted your life and done so much work to get you where you are,” says Adams. “And, obviously, when you reach things like the Paralympics and other major events, it makes you appreciate and realize there are people out there to support you and wish you well, and that's something that's very close to my heart.”
According to Adams, he still gets goose bumps thinking of the 80,000 people cheering he and his teammates on as they came into the Opening Ceremonies at the London Paralympics.
“It was absolutely mind-blowing,” he says. “It's almost like a wall of noise. The noise follows you round the track if you're a track athlete. And it's literally like being at a huge live gig 24 hours a day with 80,000 people screaming at you.”
Adams counts South African amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius and British wheelchair racer David Weir as role models. Weir won three gold medals at the London Paralympics.
After taking so much time to train for the Paralympics, Adams is now off to study for a degree in social psychology. But whatever he does, he plans to enjoy the journey along the way.
“That is what sport is all about,” he says. “You need to have fun as well as the serious side of it.”