Jessica’s passion for running was ignited as a child in her hometown of Naracoorte in South Australia’s southeast. Throughout her junior years she was heavily involved in a variety of sports including netball, basketball, tennis, athletics and school cross country. Becoming an Olympian was a childhood dream and her sporting heroes included Susie O’Neill and Benita Willis. It was Jess’s two siblings Abbie and Jack who through their sporting successes, inspired her to chase this goal in her early twenties.
Jess’s rise in Australian distance running started with victories in Adelaide’s City Bay Fun Run, Australian Cross Country Championships, the Melbourne Half Marathon and Sydney’s iconic City2Surf. These road and cross-country races built a strong foundation for her brave debut at the Marathon distance in Nagoya, Japan in March of 2012.
Jess’s performance in Japan was the fastest ever debut Marathon by an Australian woman at the time. Stopping the clock at 2:31:02, almost a full minute under the A-Qualifying standard, Jess secured her spot on the Australian Olympic team. Jess ran her second ever Marathon at the 2012 London Olympic Games. The opportunity to represent her country in the green and gold alongside the World’s best reinforced her love for the sport. Jess clocked 2:31:17, crossing the line in 39th place.
Backing up an 11th placing at the 2013 world championships, Jess had a breakthrough performance at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Continuing Australia’s proud record in the women’s Marathon, Jess surged home to claim the bronze medal, finishing behind two experienced Kenyan runners. In 2016 Jess placed 21st in the Rio Olympics Marathon.
Jess claims that injury challenges in 2014 and 2016 helped her to train smarter and become a more resilient athlete. She was able to raise the bar in 2017 by finishing 9th at the World Championships in London; the highest ever placing by an Australian female in a World Championship Marathon. In what Jess describes as one of her toughest Marathons, she won her second consecutive Commonwealth Games Bronze medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.