Elite rugby player Jodie Ounsley proves being profoundly deaf will not hold her back from her sport

When Jodie Ounsley was born profoundly deaf after being two months premature her parents were told she would struggle speaking, struggle with education and struggle getting a job.

But how Jodie has proven those predictions wrong.

Jodie Ounsley as a baby Credit: Ounsley family

Despite the difficult start to life, 20 years on, she's now is an elite rugby player for both club and country.

The Sale Sharks winger is the first deaf person to be selected to play for England 7s and she now has ambitions of achieving her lifelong dream of representing Great Britain at the Olympics.

Jodie says, "I just think about it everyday, everything I do in training. And if I get there then wow, but if I don't get there then at least I know I've tried everything to get there."

Jodie Ounsley having cochlear implant fitted at 14 months old Credit: Ounsley family

Jodie can hear sound thanks to a cochlear implant which she had fitted when she was just 14 months old. Incredibly it's a moment that was captured on camera.

She says, "It was so crazy to watch me as a young girl in a silent world and then suddenly a switch and I'm hearing the sounds around me, I'm hearing my mum and dad speak to me.

"Even though I was so young at the time, just imagining that moment was a bit surreal to be honest."

Jodie Ounsley's cochlear implant Credit: ITV Granada

Without her cochlear implant the world is silent.

Her scrum cap protects the implant while she plays but mishaps can happen like during the opening game of the Allianz Premier 15s season with Worcester, when her batteries died.

She says, "I didn't want to stop because it looked like we were going to score so I thought I'm just going to hang in there.

"Literally thought just use your eyes right now. And then the ball popped to me and I just thought oh god.

"So I sprinted, scored but then I thought  have I actually scored because I can't hear the whistle right now so I was in just a complete panic."

Phil Ounsley at the Coal Carrying World Championships Credit: Ounsley family

Inspired by her dad Phil - a former Coal Carrying World Champion - Jodie's athletic ability shone through at the age of three when she started training with a bag of carrots.

Years later and after trying numerous sports it was rugby that she fell in love with. 

Jodie's parents were reluctant to let her play the sport because of the dangers to her implant.

But after her younger brother started playing her mum and dad gave in and allowed her to have a go too.

Jodie's mum Jo says, "We thought we'll let her go to training and then she'll get it out of her system and move on to another sport.

"A few years later this is where we are. I'm glad that we got her to that first training session because rugby has literally changed her life." 

Jodie's dad Phil adds, "We were told that she's struggle speaking, she'd struggle in education and her job prospects would be severely restricted.

"But obviously she's proved all that wrong and she's just doing amazing things and we're really proud of her."

Jodie Ounsley in action for Sale Sharks Credit: HAYDEN NEWBEGIN/SPP/Sports Press/PA Images

Jodie's never let being deaf hold her back and she wants to pass that message on to others with disabilities.

She says, "Believe in yourself because I know there's a lot of times where I doubt myself that because I'm deaf I can't do this or that or is it possible?

"Absolutely it is, don't let anyone else tell you that you can't do something anyway just go for it and what's the worst that can happen."

A role model both on and off the pitch, Jodie Ounsley is a name we'll definitely be hearing more of in the future.