Growing up in Geelong Jess was diagnosed with a rare eye disease, cone dystrophy when in Year 12 at high school causing her to lose much of her eyesight. She is now classified as legally blind.
Following in her Mum's footsteps, Jess grew up playing Netball and Basketball, having represented Victoria on several occasions and being named as an emergency for the Australian U16 netball team. She also represented Geelong and Victoria Country in underage basketball.
At the age of 21 Jess randomly discovered Paralympic sport and was talent identified for Athletics. She was first selected to represent Australia at the 2008 Beijing Summer Paralympics but was demmed ineligible to compete due to the sight in one eye being 0.01% too sighted to be eligible. Prior to Beijing she had also been asked to try alpine skiing and so when she returned to Australia after the hearrt break of Beijing she tranisitoned to alpine skiing.
At the 2010 Vancouver Winter Paralympics Jess finally made her debut for Australia and assisted by her guide, Eric Bickerton, Jess became the first Australian female to win a medal at a Winter Paralympic Games, finishing third in the Women's Slalom, this achievement also happened to coincide with her birthday- what a present!
She returned to athletics upon her return from Vancouver and in 2011, just 8 months after the winter Paralympics Jess became the first Australian to medal at both a Winter and Summer event at international level when she won the silver medal in the long jump and the bronze medal in the javelin at the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand.
In 2012, Jess qualified to participate at the London Summer Paralympics, but tore her meniscus six weeks out from competition. Despite being severely hampered by her injury in both training and competition, Jess participated in both long jump and javelin, finishing fifth and sixth in her events.
She again switched back to alpine skiing and at the 2014 Sochi Winter Paralympics Jess won another bronze medal, this time in the Giant Slalom with guide Christian Geiger.
In pursuit of her long term goal- becomnig Australia's first athlete to medal at a summer AND winter Paralympics and due to Long Jump being removed from the Rio Paralympics Jess has transitioned to track cycling. In March 2016 she made her debut for Australia as a cyclist becoming World Champion and claiming a new World Record in the process in the womens tandem sprint alongside her pilot Maddie Janseen. They also won bronze in the 1 kilometre Time Trial.
A the 2016 Rio Paralympics Jess created stunning sporting history becoming the first Australian athlete- Olympic or Paralympic to medal at both a summer and winter games when she won bronze in the 1km Time Trial.
Outside of her sporting activities, Jess is also a fully qualified and registered osteopath, Board Director and global ambassador for Vision 2020 Australia, ambassador for Disabled Wintersport Australia and Vision Australia/ Seeing Eye Dogs Australia.
Jess is based in Melbourne, Australia.
Happy #Osteopathy Awareness Week! 😀 Having been in practice for 9 years now (geesh where did that time go?) I'm pretty bias when I say Osteo's are AWESOME! 👌 It's a privilage to help others look after their greatest asset... your #health & I'm delighted to help spread the word even nore this week as we encourage everyond to #giveitago. If you've never heard of or seen an #Osteopath now's the perfect time! Jump online @osteopathyau website & you'll find some great infoemation along with a wonderful search engone to find you're local! #OAW2018 #wellness #wellbeing @liforceosteopathy
It's difficult to put into words the emotions of my first Commonwealth Games. The opportunity to race on home soil was as special & unfortgettable as I'd dreamt about. @maddiejanssen & I did things in pairs... 2 PB's, 2 Comm Games records & 2 second place finishes. Thank you Australia for the love & support, the HUGE roar of the crowd was only matched by the HUGE smiles on our faces showing how proud & grateful we are to be able to share these moments with you all. Racing on the track was bloody unreal. 💚🇦🇺💛 @australiancyclingteam @cyclingaustralia @ausparalympics @commgamesaus @gc2018 #sharethedream #GC2018 #AussieCycling #TeamAus #GreaterTogether 📷 @tbsphotography
Tough morning for @annameares, @chadleclos92 & I having a surf lesson with this legend! 🏄 So much fun! Flick across for some of the action & if you see footage on the telly enjoy seeing me fall off again & again... until that one time I actually stood up! Yewww!!! 😂😂😂 Thanks @mfanno, loved it... next time we'll put you on a tandem for a spin! 🚴 @australiancyclingteam @gc2018 @thisisqueensland #sharethedream #GC2018 #TeamAus