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.
This is the moment you dream of as an athlete... the game face, the adrenalin, the nerves, the start line ready to take your opportunity to be your best on the biggest stage. I can't believe that in just 200 days that stage will be on home soil, a once in a lifetime opportunity to race in front of a home crowd! Bring on the coming months as the countdown to @gc2018 really starts to heat up! Happy #200daystogo 😲 💚🇦🇺💛 @queensland @cyclingaustralia @ausparalympics @commgamesaus #sharethedream #thisisqueensland #aussiecycling
What a big couple of days in Canberra this week. I'm delighted to have been selected alongside these talented #womeninsport for the #AIS & #Bluescope #ChangetheGame #leadership program & boy did it start with a bang with 2 long but rewarding days of workshop! Very excited to work with my Bluescope #mentor & share this experience with the group as a whole. Thanks to the @australian_institute_of_sport, @Bluescopeaus & @CyclingAustralia for the opportunity!
Hands up if you can't believe this was one year ago already!!! 👐 Wonderful memories with @maddiejanssen from Rio that will last us a lifetime & personally helped mend some of the devastation from Beijing & London... I FINALLY got my hands on that elusive summer Paralympic medal! 😀💚💛🇦🇺🥉🚴 @ausparalympics @cyclingaustralia #aussiecycling
What a treat getting to have breakfast at the stunning #PalazzoVersaceHotel yesterday with some @gc2018 guests! It was so tempting to just dive straight into the pool! Just another typical bluebird day on the #GoldCoast it seems...! 🌞😎🌡 It's going to be hard going back to Melbourne's current weather! @palazzoversace @queensland #sharethedream #thisisqueensland