SBVC Glassblowing Student Jonathan Ohayon Competed for Team Canada at 2004 Olympics and Continues Training for 2012 Olympics
contributed by Julie Farren
Jonathan Ohayon found a sport during his second year at the University of Toronto that gave him a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Jonathan, 39, of Yucaipa, competed as the only archer for Canada’s Olympic team at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. He was one of 128 archers from around the world – 64 men and 64 women.
Although he does other sports, such as judo, soccer, and snowboarding, nothing compares to archery.
“It seemed a very natural fit for me,” said Jonathan, a web designer who is currently taking glassblowing classes at SBVC.
Born in Israel to Arie and Josephine Ohayon, Jonathan moved with his family to Canada when he was 12.
Archery entered his life eight years later and he fell in love with the sport that has taken him around the world to places like Italy, Colombia, Mexico, France, and ultimately, Greece.
While studying for a Bachelor’s of Science in computer science from the University of Toronto, Jonathan began devoting his time to archery. He rose through the ranks very fast in his new sport, he said, and nearly qualified for the 1996 Olympics within his first three years as an archer.
He realized he wasn’t ready for that level of training and took about four years off to finish up his schooling, graduate, and get his web company started. Jonathan said that time off prepared him for the intensity he needed to focus on the Olympics.
“I was back stronger than ever,” said Jonathan.
He began training right after the 2000 Olympics at The U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista with archery coaches M.J. Rogers and Lloyd Brown.
Jonathan said he found out several months before the 2004 Summer Olympics that he had qualified for the team. Normal training would be four to eight hours a day, five days a week. Training for the Olympics was 12 hours a day, 6 to 7 days a week.
Archery is more of a mental sport, said Jonathan. But it also involves cardio, strength training, working on equipment, and shooting a lot a lot of arrows.
The day he competed in Athens, Mother Nature wasn’t on Jonathan’s side.
“We had to shoot in some of the most intense winds that swirled around the stadium unexpectedly,’’ he said. “If you got winds and your competitor didn’t, there was not much you could do about it. Sadly, the wind gods weren’t in my favor that day.”
Jonathan was eliminated after the second day of competition. It was disappointing but Jonathan said he was determined to re-build his form with Olympic coaches Rogers and Brown and to become an even stronger archer. At the time he was ranked top 30 in the world.
He missed out on the 2008 Olympics because he and wife Margaret bought a home in Yucaipa and that took a lot of time. Margaret also understands his love for the sport because she is an archer so they built a range in their backyard for training.
Jonathan said he is preparing for the 2012 Summer Olympics. “I’m actually shooting better than I ever have,” said Jonathan, who also coaches archery students from age 5 to 70. Archery really is a sport that can be enjoyed for a lifetime.
Over the next few months, he will compete in qualification events and should find out if he makes Team Canada’s archery squad within the May/June/July time period.
When he’s not training, Jonathan’s other love is glassblowing (see samples of his work at right). He said his interest in art started at an early age because his grandfather, screenwriter Joseph Liss, was friends with abstract artists Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko.
Jonathan remembers being a child and watching de Kooning paint while visiting his grandparents, Joseph and Mildred, in Long Island, N.Y. Rothko, who died before Jonathan was born, painted a portrait of Jonathan’s grandfather.
About six years ago, Jonathan took painting and life drawing classes at Crafton Hills College. He really wanted to take the glassblowing class at SBVC but it was always full. Several years ago, there was an opening in the class and Jonathan has been creating glass ever since. “We are so fortunate to have access to such an amazing facility and instructors and I am so grateful for the opportunity SBVC provides,” said Jonathan.
He credits SBVC Art Professor James Stewart with letting him try different techniques and of always helping him to become a better artist. Jonathan, who collaborates on the glasswork with fellow student Andrew Palmer, said his style is organic.
“It’s not a solo art,” said Jonathan. “Glassblowing is really a team effort art.”
Jonathan had an opportunity through Stewart to meet one of his idols, Italian glass master, Lino Tagliapietra, who had an exhibit in Palm Springs two years ago.
Jonathan said he worked up the nerve to ask Tagliapietra about one of his signature creations from the Saturno series. Tagliapietra drew him a sketch, and Jonathan and Andrew were so excited that they went back to the glassblowing lab the next day to re-create it.
Art inspires Jonathan on the same level as archery.
“When I shoot, it’s almost like the same feeling for me,” he said.