England and GB rugby star Jodie Ounsley: With my deafness I’m making history | Olympics.com

For most of her life, Jodie Ounsley has viewed her deafness as a superpower.

It’s never a barrier but a challenge she likes to tackle head on, that she credits with helping her become resilient, focussed, and creative.

Born profoundly deaf, Ounsley was an active child. Due to wearing hearing aids it was considered risky for her to play contact sports.

Despite this, she went on to become a British Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion and represented both England and Great Britain at rugby sevens, making her the first deaf female rugby player to have appeared for a senior England side.

“I loved athletics, I loved like grappling and fighting. So, rugby felt like a home combination,” Ounsley says in an exclusive chat with Olympics.com.

“It was amazing, to represent my country, is something really special. But I think it meant even more with my deafness”

“It was sort of a rollercoaster ride,” Ounsley tells us, looking back on her first visit to the South West London suburb where England rugby is based: “Moving to Twickenham… my whole life just changed 360.”

Becoming a rugby player proved her capability to be competitive in a team, further boosting her confidence.

Her game has improved leaps and bounds since, and now Ounsley is inspiring others with disabilities to chase their dreams.

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Picture by Robbie Stephenson/JMP