Jodie Ounsley is preparing to compete for Great Britain at the 23rd Deaflympics later this month – as Loughborough College offers key support to the DeaflympicsGB team.
The 16 year old sprinter will be lining up for the 100m and 200m adult events when athletes from more than 100 nations across the world gather for the International Olympic Committee-sanctioned event in Samsun, Turkey from 18 – 30 July.
Loughborough College FE Sport programme area lead Danny Lee, who is Chair of the DeaflympicsGB Performance Committee, has meanwhile led on the College hosting a DeaflympicsGB team training camp as well as the organization of translators, psychologists, welfare support and nutritionists – who include College alumnus Lewis Kind.
Jodie, who is a member of the England U 18s WRFU academy, is joining the high performance rugby programme at Loughborough College.
The Sports Science student is profoundly deaf but the only outward sign of a hearing problem is a small processor worn above her ear for the cochlear implant fitted when she was 14 months.
Jodie’s dad Phil will be supporting his daughter in Turkey and is also head welfare and security officer for the games. Sponsorship has enabled Jodie to cover the costs of kit, accommodation and flights.
“DeaflympicsGB is currently not funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport but our British team will be competing against athletes who are funded and who train full time,” said Danny Lee.
“These guys have full time jobs or are full time students so have to fundraise to the tune of around £2,500 each just to compete.
“That makes it even more amazing that we have 72 athletes on the DeaflympicsGB squad – and I think we have a real chance of some medals.
“I would say Deaflympics is in the same position the Paralympics were in the ‘nineties. Hopefully they will eventually have the same profile and backing.
“There is no deaf category in the Paralympics so unless an athlete has another disability they can’t compete. They could, in theory, compete in the Olympics but would require significant adaptations.
“Lots of coaches are simply not equipped to deal with those adaptations – so it is vital we establish a dedicated pathway to support these athletes as they train and learn.
“Loughborough College is keen to work with DeaflympicsGB to establish an academy to do just that in the approach to the 24th games in 2021. “
Elizabeth Udall, Communications Consultant:
Tel: 07515 852690