England Rugby Sevens player Jodie Ounsley said that she will risk losing her hearing ability to play at the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer.
The 19-year-old is profoundly deaf. However, she has a cochlear implant. It means she can now hear, but playing rugby will fuel the risk of losing that ability.
Ounsley said that she has been advised not to play any kind of contact sports.
She said, "I'm really passionate about not letting hearing hold you back. 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."
She also added that it's her dream to play at the Olympics. She wants to fulfill her dream without letting her hearing abilities create shackles on the way. Ousley won her first England international cap in October 2019. In the process, she became the first deaf female rugby player to have been selected for an international sevens squad.
As of now, she is hopeful of securing a spot in the Great Britain squad that will take part in the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Her international rugby career didn't have a smooth ride, as she constantly fought her impairment. BBC reports that Ounsley joked about times when she ran the length of the pitch only to realise later that the whistle had been blown. She also spoke about how she matured over the years, and handled the challenges that are involved in integrating into any team as the only deaf player.
Ounsley's rugby career is indeed an example of determination and dedication. Maybe playing at the Olympics is her ultimate goal, but her story of overcoming all the challenges over time, on and off the pitch, is much more valuable than the sport.
She mentioned that while growing up, she realised that she needs to go for glory no matter what awaits. She also admitted that had she not pursued her goals, she would have regretted it, and she doesn't want to live with any regrets.