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First Deaf England International Rugby Sevens Player: Jodie Ounsley

Jodie Ounsley is profoundly deaf but hears with a cochlear implant. She is an international rugby player and risks losing her hearing ability by continuing to play. As BBC Sport recently reported, Jodie has the Olympics in her sights and she is refusing to let her hearing get in the way. She has always been advised not to play impact sports. If the magnet in her head gets dislodged, she would no longer be able to hear.

19 year old Jodie, became the first deaf female rugby player to be selected for an international sevens squad. She won her first England cap in October 2019 – go girl! Hopefully, she can secure a place in the GB team that will compete at this Summer’s Olympic Games.

 

Jodie’s Road to Success

The journey to superstar has not been an easy one for Jodie though. She herself jokes of times where she ran the whole length of the pitch before realising that in fact the whistle had been blown. She has always been very open about the challenges she’s faced integrating herself as the only deaf player in the team. She is continuously finding strategies to better work with her team and has told England coaches she needs to speak to them face-to-face, rather than shouting from across the pitch, so that she can lip read. Jodie herself had this to say:

“I’m really passionate about not letting hearing hold you back,” she says. “Anyone who has a cochlear implant fitted, they say not to play impact sports because of the risk that the implant might get knocked in your head and you might not be able to hear again. That’s the worst possible scenario. I found sport and it was something I was good at where my hearing didn’t seem to matter. As I’ve grown, I’ve realised you need to go for it anyway. There’s no point holding back. The last thing you want to do is live with regrets.”

 

Family Concerns

Jodie doesn’t remember life without her implant as it was fitted when she was just 14 months old. Jodie’s deafness has been attributed to the fact she was born prematurely and given antibiotics.

Understandably her father was wary about Jodie’s ambitions to play rugby. Eventually they discovered she could wear a scrum cap which would most likely protect the implant. Despite earlier reservations, Jodie’s family are now super supportive of her rugby career.

 

Previous Sporting Career

International sevens is only Jodie’s latest sporting success, having competed for GB in sprinting at the Deaf Olympics as well as being a former jiu-jitsu British champion. She has always dreamed of competing at the Olympic Games and we are definitely supporting her!

 

An Inspiration to the Deaf Community

Over the past year, Jodie has begun visiting deaf schools to talk to pupils about her sporting journey. She was left shocked by pupils’ responses. A lot of people seemed scared to go for their dreams believing their hearing would hold them back. Jodie has since decided she can be the person to push any such individuals to chase their dreams and support them. The kids now look to her as a role model and she is loving it.

 

Jodie, all of us here at Veritas Hearing are sending you all the luck in the world with your Olympics campaign.

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