Dual Olympian Jo Brigden-Jones Waves Goodbye to Her Kayaking Career

Posted on November 4, 2021 by

After 21 years of chasing her dreams, Jo Brigden-Jones this morning announced her official retirement from sprint kayaking.

She has been a member of the Australian canoe sprint team since 2004 and her announcement comes off the back of her Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games performance earlier this year.

Representing her country for the past 18 years, Jo who competed at both the London 2012 Games and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, takes her fond memories of the ups and downs endured whilst chasing her goals with her into retirement: pushing the limits, laughing with teammates, injuries, tears of frustration and joy in success.

Growing up with a love of sport, Jo quickly found herself at the Northern Beaches Kayak Club, selected as a then 13-year-old in their talent identification program. With her selection, Jo took up paddling four times a week and challenged herself to get better every day.

It was within two years that she would find herself representing Australia at the Junior World Championships and the Australian Youth Olympic Festival where she won five medals.

2008 was a breakthrough year for Jo as she graduated to senior competition. By 2010 she had won her first individual world cup medal and was the lead ranking female paddler.

In 2011 she won her first world championships medal – a bronze in the K2 200m (with Hannah Davis). The pair also paddled in the K4 500m and secured Australia quota positions for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Jo went on to compete at the London Olympics in the K4 500m event.

Already a graduate with a Bachelor of Nursing from the University of Technology, Sydney, Jo took a break from the sport in 2016, subsequently missing selection for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, in order to further focus on her studies. Jo had been studying a Diploma of Clinical Practice (Paramedic) via distance education through Charles Sturt University and had fulfilled another lifelong dream in becoming a paramedic with NSW Ambulance.

Jo returned to paddling in 2017 and set a goal to return to the Olympic arena to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Throughout the 2018 season, Jo secured several world cup podium finishes including a silver medal at the 2018 World Cup in the K4 500m.

Eight years after her Olympic debut, she secured her selection into her second Australian Olympic Team, finishing second in the K1 500 at the 2020 Australian Championships. In true championship style, Jo also won the women’s K1 and K2 200m and secured second in the women’s K2 500.

Originally planning her retirement for August 2020 and after the Tokyo Games, Jo had begun ramping up her final preparations when the coronavirus outbreak spread to Australia.

For Jo who had been balancing her training requirements which included up to four training sessions a day, with her full-time work as a paramedic, the announcement of the postponed Games was devastating. Her retirement plans were quickly derailed, and Jo was not only faced with an additional year of hard training ahead of her, but also stood facing the challenges of navigating a pandemic as a front-line worker in Australia’s health care system. Jo herself one of the first paramedics involved in transferring a patient with a confirmed case of coronavirus to hospital.

Her strong will, perseverance and dedication allowed her to continue to juggle her commitments and push herself further than she ever thought possible. Competing in Tokyo at the 2020 Olympic Games, Jo made the semi-final of the K2 500m and the final of the K4 500m.

While an Olympic medal eluded her, Jo says she has received so much more out of chasing her goals.

“I pushed myself further than I ever thought was capable,” Jo wrote on her social media accounts today. “I am so proud of everything I have achieved. It was really special to finish it all off at the Tokyo Olympics”.

Finally retiring after representing her country for the last two decades and competing at two Olympics, Jo says she most looks forward to catching up on some sleep ins, enjoying her passion of baking and cheering for the next generation from the sidelines.

Reflecting on her experience as an elite athlete, Jo took to her social media accounts to note how proud she is to have travelled the world, paddled in some incredible places, and met the most amazing people.

“What I’ve learnt from the sport is that it’s the people that you meet along the way that have the biggest influence on you,” she wrote.

In her send-off she thanked her biggest supporters from throughout her journey – her coaches, teammates, training partners, support staff, friends, family, and her cheer squads.

“A massive thank you for coming on this journey with me. I have so many wonderful memories that I will never forget”.

NSWIS congratulates Jo on an unforgettable career and thanks her for her on-going front-line emergency work with NSW Ambulance.

No Comments

Leave a Reply