Person I Admire (Jonny Wilkinson)

“With just three minutes remaining, the drop-goal was always going to be on. It looked set to happen from way out, but Matt Dawson caught the tense Aussie defence napping to scoot through and set up a ruck in the Australian 22. Neil Back flung the ball out to his skipper Martin Johnson who bashed it up one more time and then Dawson got back to his feet for one final pass, which saw one final swing of Wilkinson’s right boot.

Wilkinson had done it. England had done it. Australia so very nearly managed to do it. It was a terrific Final, a terrific World Cup as a result and a very nerve-wracking 100 minutes of Finals rugby.”

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Jonny Peter Wilkinson, at just twenty-four years of age, has already been commended by many as one of the best fly-halves in the world, if not the best. This has been greatly helped by his fantastic right-footed drop goal in the closing stages of the two-thousand-and-three rugby World Cup Final, but also due to his sheer determination and perseverance to always improve his skill and ability on and off the pitch.

Jonny started playing rugby at the mere age of four, after being encouraged by his father, Phil, who had played for twenty-two years. So both Jonny and his brother, Mark, were eager to follow in his footsteps. At school Jonny was always sporty and played in the tennis, cricket and rugby teams. And it was at Lord Wandsworth College that Steve Bates, one of his teachers, realised Jonny’s potential as a rugby player. Whilst at Lord Wandsworth College, Jonny was selected by England rugby selectors for the English 18’s Schools Rugby Tour of Australia in nineteen-nineteen-seven. Here he scored an incredible ninety-four points in just five games. Jonny’s career in rugby began.

After turning down a place at Durham University he signed a two year contract with The Newcastle Falcons. Rob Andrews also saw his capability and allowed Jonny to play for the England first team, after only just under an hour with the senior rugby team. In his first game for England against Ireland, he broke records, as England’s youngest player this century, at just eighteen. He took the place of Mike Catt in England’s seventy-ninth minute of the game. Many people thought that Jonny would not be any good as they had never heard of him.

Jonny had a disastrous summer in nineteen-nineteen-eight during the Australian Summer Tour, however, his home team, The Newcastle Falcons, had faith in him, and he was soon to be back on form when he played in several major games before his dream to become part of the England World Cup Squad was realised in August nineteen-nineteen-nine when he was welcomed to the team. These games had included helping England win the 6 Nations Cup in two-thousand, two-thousand-and-one and two-thousand-and-three.

Other than rugby achievements, Jonny was bestowed with an OBE, received the two-thousand-and-three BBC Sports Personality and also accepted the “freedom of the city” of Newcastle which had previously been given to Alan Shearer and Jackie Milburn.

Jonny looked set to conquer all his dreams after winning the World Cup, however, just one month after his glorious defeat over the Australians, Jonny was walking off the pitch at Kingston Park during the fifty-fourth minute, in his return game with the Falcons against Northampton. The injury Jonny had sustained would keep him out of rugby for eight months; it also seriously threatened his career.

Although Jonny’s injury meant he wasn’t able to play rugby for eight months he used his time to the maximum effect, that he would come back as a more prominent and stronger player. He spent months in rehabilitation in order to achieve this.

At the moment Jonny’s commercial work includes modelling for Hackett, being the new face of Lucozade sports drink and being the front man in Boots new campaign for lowering blood cholesterol. But, Jonny only allows himself twenty days a year for commercial work and so for the rest of the year he is training vigorously. Jonny is almost obsessive when it comes to his training regime. He trains for at least three hours everyday and will often not leave the pitch until he feels his kicking is perfect. Jonny has always been obsessive about perfection and as a child would often spend and entire Sunday down at his local rugby pitch kicking balls with his brother or father until it got to dark to see. This is because Jonny plays with a fear of letting people down and it motivates him to always try harder. Jonny’s father has also said that “Christmas Day does tend to interfere with his training regime.”

All Jonny’s hard work and dedication has definitely paid off as he is now one of the most accurate goal kickers in World rugby. However, there is so much more to Jonny other than just his amazing kicking abilities.

Despite being so young he has already achieved so much and yet does not seek fame. He tries to stay out of the lime-light as much he possibly can. If Jonny ever gives himself a day off the he chooses to enjoy it in the company of this family or close friends such as team mate, Richard Hill.

Another admirable quality that Jonny has is even though he has missed major games this season and last he doesn’t sit at home feeling sorry for himself. Instead he watches videos of his opponents and makes endless notes on how they play and what their tactics are. This may be why he has now been appointed England’s captain along side fellow team mate Ian Peel.

After Jonny’s split from model girlfriend Diana Stewart back in November, Jonny’s main focuses are now on recovering from his recent injuries, improving his fitness back to its peak, continuing his elite practising regime to improve his kicking and also to resume his position in both the Newcastle Falcons and England squads.

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