SURF LIFE SAVING: When Rockhampton's Jonty Dodson is faced with a hurdle, he will do everything in his power to overcome it.
At just 17-years-old, Jonty had already experienced more obstacles than the average person and showed courage and determination beyond his years.
Training and competing with a broken foot was no problem for him, he laughed in the face of heart surgery and shrugged off spinal reconstruction and its aftermath.
Let's start from the beginning.
In 2010 The Morning Bulletin wrote about how, despite having a broken foot, Jonty continued to train and compete in the sport he loved, surf lifesaving.
With a cast strapped on his leg, Jonty trained almost every day to complete six pool and four surf sessions a week.
Just over a year later, Jonty was faced with heart surgery to have a patent foramen ovale closure operation and was back swimming within the month.
"The heart surgery didn't hold me back too much and I had about a month easy swimming," Jonty said.
But it was Jonty's quick recovery from spinal reconstruction that had everyone around the surf lifesaving scene shaking their heads.
A year ago this month, Jonty was diagnosed with scoliosis and went under the knife again to have 18 bolts and two rods inserted to straighten his spine.
He was given 18 months to walk again but defied all odds and was back in the water learning to walk and swim just a month later.
Through sheer determination, Jonty worked hard to get back on his feet and was now training for the National Surf Life Saving Championships after recently claiming gold in the surf team event at the Queensland Surf Life Saving titles for his Maroochydore Surf Lifesaving Club.
"After the back surgery, I had to learn how to do everything again. I had to learn how to walk and run and swim so it's very pleasing to come out and smash it just after having an operation," Jonty said.
Jonty said he had never made the top three at the state titles before, making victory even sweeter.
"It's pretty awesome. I've never been in the top three before. I've been trying to crack it for a few years now so taking first is pretty great," he said.
"I was told to sprint out the first 200m trying to get up the front and somehow I did that, because I'm not a sprinter, and then I stuck on someone's wash and travelled in and coming up the home straight, I just legged it and got up in front and won."
On top of completing five to seven swim and three to five surf sessions a week, Jonty was also completing his OP at The Cathedral College. He was looking forward to a break after the nationals, as he sometimes struggled to balance school and training. He will travel to North Kirra and Tugun beaches for the Australian Surf Lifesaving Championships on April 15-21.
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