Games type: Summer Paralympic Games
Games year: Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012, Rio 2016, Tokyo 2020
Medal won: Bronze, Gold
Para sport: Shooting Para sport
Gender: Male
Date of Birth15 October 1973
OccupationShooting Para sport athlete
Eligible impairmentLoss of muscle power
Health conditionQuadriplegia (caused by spinal cord injury)

For New Zealand Paralympic shooting legend Michael Johnson, it has always been about far more than personal gain. The South Auckland-raised athlete may have enjoyed a stellar career at the top, but he has been equally motivated by raising the profile of the sport. He enjoys passing on his extensive knowledge to the next generation.

Injured in a motor accident aged 22, Mike returned to university to study a Bachelor in Information Systems. In his late 20s he spotted a brochure at Parafed Auckland promoting target shooting. He decided to give the sport a crack.

Starting out at the Ardmore National Shooting Complex in 2001 he was immediately taken with the challenge of the sport.

“The great thing about shooting is it is one of the few sports which integrates both able bodied with disability. My goal was to try and beat the able-bodied guys,“ he explains.

Sporting success for Michael

Within a year of taking up Shooting Para sport he was competing internationally. Then in 2004 he struck gold with a world record score in the R4 Mixed Air Rifle Standing SH2 event at the Athens 2004 Paralympics. It was an achievement he described as a “huge surprise.“

Success has continued to follow Mike, who now trains at a range set up at his Waiuku home. He landed World titles in 2006 and 2010 and claimed back-to-back bronze medals at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Paralympic Games. Mike was part of the New Zealand Rio 2016 Paralympic Games Team that won a stunning 21 medals. The Team finished first in the world per capita and 13th in the world overall (previous best: 16th).

Michael Johnson appears from 9 minutes 45 seconds into the video

At the 2019 World Shooting Para Sport Championships in Sydney the pairing of Michael Johnson and Natalie Brunzel won a bronze medal in the R11 10M Air Rifle Standing Mixed Team event.

Michael competed at his fifth Paralympic Games in a row in Tokyo 2020. Only Paralympian #54 Colin Willis has matched this achievement in Shooting Para sport.

The 2023 World Championships saw Mike narrowly miss a chance to earn a slot for Paris 2024, with a 9th place finish in the 50m R9 event.

Michael officially received his ‘numbered’ Paralympic pin as part of The Celebration Project in Auckland in May 2019.

A sport to love

So why does the 46-year-old veteran love the sport so much?

“It matches my personality in terms of the need to be quite patient and consistent,“ he explains. “I also like the fact it has allowed me to travel the world and make so many friends. I still feel I’m improving as a shooter.“

A former President of Parafed Auckland (now Disability Sport Auckland), Mike is also an active coach. He adds: “I don’t hide any secrets and I pass on my knowledge freely.“

Mike now puts his expertise to good use in his role of Shooting Para Sport Lead for Paralympics New Zealand. Mike leads the Shooting Para Sport programme and develops its strategy, engaging with stakeholders in its implementation. A big question ahead for the Para sport is the possibility of integration into the New Zealand Shooting Federation. Michael is working to scope this option.

Photo gallery

Paralympic results

2020Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games6th – R4 Mixed 10m Air Rifle Standing SH2
2016Rio 2016 Paralympic Games5th – R4 10m Air Rifle Standing SH2
2012London 2012 Paralympic GamesBronze – R4 10m Air Rifle
4th - R5 10m Air Rifle Prone
2008Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games Bronze - R4 10m Air Rifle
9th - R5 10m Air Rifle Prone
2004Athens 2004 Paralympic GamesGold - R4 10m Air Rifle
9th - R5 10m Air Rifle Prone

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