Jo Brigden-Jones is an elite athlete in the sport of sprint kayaking. Since 2004, Jo has represented Australia every year in international competitions all around the world. Her highlight was racing at the 2012 Olympic Games in London where her K4 crew placed 9th. Racing at the Olympics was an incredible reward for years of commitment and hard work. Jo is one of Australia's most versatile paddlers as she has raced over all sprint distances (200m, 500m & 1000m) in all boat classes (K1, K2 & K4) at various World Championship and World Cup events. Jo has won a World Championship medal and multiple World Cup medals. She also has 40 Australian National Titles to her name.
After a successful 2020 domestic season of racing, Jo was named on the Australian Olympic Team to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The Olympics have been postponed to July 2021 due to the Corona-virus pandemic. This will be Jo's second Olympic Games team, a goal she has been working towards for many years. With the official postponement of the Olympics and the cancellation of all international events for the remainder of the year, Jo will now be spending most of the year training and preparing for next years events while continuing her work as a paramedic.
In 2016, Jo commenced full time work in her dream career as a paramedic and she has successfully able to combine her work with training commitments and remain a world class paddler. In the 2017 season Jo won two silver medals at the World Cup in Belgrade, Serbia. Jo then went on to the World Championships and made the A final in the K1 500m event which was phenomenal considering Jo was not able to train full time given her work commitments. The 2018 and 2019 domestic and international seasons were also a success with final appearances at the World championships in K2 and K4. A record breaking K4 500m race in 2018, saw Jo and her crew win a silver medal and break the Australian record at the World Cup event. The same crew combine to secure Australia a K4 quota place at the Tokyo Olympics.
It has't been all fun and games for Jo, with much heartache and adversity along the way. Jo has injured her shoulder on two occasions, requiring reconstructions on both her left and right shoulders. After months of rehab, Jo made successful comebacks to her sport on both occasions. Jo has also had to deal with non selection after missing out on the 2016 Olympic Team. At the selection trials, Jo won 3 selections races and place second in 3 selection races but still managed to miss out on a place on the Australian Team.
2012 Australian Olympic Team, London
Selection to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
17 years of National Team representation - 2004 - 2020
Bronze medal, K2 200m, World Championships 2011, Szeged, Hungary
Multiple World Cup medals - Gold, Silver, Bronze between 2008-2018
10 time World Championship finalist
Ranked number 1, ICF World Cup Series 2010
42 time Australian National Champion
2020 - National Championships - 1st K1 200m, K2 200m, State V State K4, 2nd K1 500m, K2 500m
Australian Olympic Team selection for Tokyo 2020 Olympics
2019 - World Championships - 7th K4 500m (Olympic quota qualification), 8th K2 200m
World Cup - 6th K2 200m, 10th K2 500
National Championships - 1st K4 500m, K2 200m, State V State K4 2nd K1 200m, 3rd K1 500m
2018 - World Championships - 7th K4 500m, 8th K2 200m
World Cup - 2nd K4 500m
National Championships - 1st K4 500m, K2 200m, 2nd K1 200m, 3rd K1 500m
2017 - World Championships - 9th K1 500m, 16th K1 200m
World Cup - 2nd K1 1000m, K2 200m
National Championships - 1st K1 200m, 2nd K1 500m
2016 - National Championships - 1st K1 200m, 2nd K1 500m, K2 500m
Oceania Championships - 1st K1 200m, K1 500m, 2nd K2 500m
Australia Day Ambassador - 2019, 2018, 2017 & 2016
Manly Pathway of Olympians - plaque placed in 2013
NSW Institute of Sport - Personal Excellence Award finalist 2017, 2015, 2014
Charles Sturt University Distance Education Sports Person of the Year 2012 & 2014
Sport Achievement Award - Australian Institute of Sport 2011
Paddle NSW Female Paddler of the Year 2011
Pittwater Council - Sportsperson of the Year 2010
NSW Institute of Sport, Academic Excellence 2009
University of Technology, Sydney, Sportswoman of the Year 2008 & 2009
University of Technology, Sydney, Full Blue award 2008 & 2009
Layne Beachley 'Aim For the Stars Foundation' scholarship
THE LONG VERSION
There is a lot more to Jo than paddling her boat fast...
Jo Brigden-Jones is a true Northern Beaches girl. Born and raised in Mona Vale, she had great access to a range of sporting activities on the beach, by the lake and at the sporting fields. Growing up, Jo was a sporty kid but didn't excel in any particular sport. She loved netball, athletics and swimming. In 2001, Jo's mum heard about a Talent Identification program being run by a local kayak club. Jo went along to the tryouts not knowing was kayaking even was. Jo was picked for the TID squad with the Sydney Northern Beaches Kayak Club at age 13 and began paddling 4 times a week.
Jo had steady progress over the first couple of years but was never a standout paddler. She had some good results as a junior but it was the way Jo learnt how to work hard and the mental toughness she developed at training that would pay off down the track. Jo's first kayak coach, Christine Duff told her "don't fear to dream big" and which got Jo thinking. In 2004, Jo made her first national team, she was announced as a member of the Australian Junior Team at the age of 15. Jo won various intentional medals as a junior paddler including at a prestigious competition in Germany and also at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival.
By this stage Jo had just finished high school and began university. Since Jo was 10 years old she had always wanted to be a paramedic. She would see ambulances zoom by and was fascinated. This dream continued with Jo and she started to put the pieces in place to make this happen. Jo commenced a Bachelor of Nursing degree at the University of Technology, Sydney and decided to use this degree and experience as a stepping stone to her dream career. Jo worked as a Registered Nurse around her training.
In 2008, Jo had a breakout year. She was 19 years old and racing in the senior category and racing people 15 years her senior. At the Olympic Trials Jo produced great results and finished with a ranking of 5th, meaning she missed out on Olympic selection by one place.
2009 saw Jo compete at her first World Championships where she made four A finals, in all of the events she entered (K1 500m, K1 1000m, K4 200m, K1 200m relay). Jo won her first individual World Cup medal in 2010 and was ranked the number 1 paddler in the world at the conclusion of the World Cup Series. She was producing PB's most races and during training sessions. In her last training session before the World Championships, Jo was practicing a start and felt instant pain in her right shoulder. Jo knew is was bad and still attempted to race at the World Championships where she ultimately has to withdraw from the competition. Jo returned home and had surgery to repair the damaged done to her shoulder. She wasn't allowed to paddle for 5 months, and spent this time rehabbing and cross training.
Jo made a successful return to the sport in 2011. Jo won her first World Championships medal, a bronze in the K2 200m with Hannah Davis. The girls also paddled in the K4 500m event to successfully qualify 4 quota positions for Australia at the London Olympics. The K4 continued to work hard together and they gained selection onto the Australian Olympic Team in March 2012. Jo was beyond happy to have achieved this life time goal. Looking back over the many years she dedicated to her training and racing, it had really paid off.
The 2012 Olympic Games in London, were a career highlight and nothing quite compares. Walking into the Opening Ceremony Jo got goosebumps from head to toe as she realised her dream of going to the Olympics has just come true. Jo recaps this moment extremely well, and it will give you goosebumps too! Jo and her teammates raced in front of a screaming 20,000 person crowd, a moment she will never forget. Her 3 weeks spent at the Olympics were incredible. She has so many amazing memories of the special time being a part of the greatest sporting event in the world.
In 2012 Jo commenced studying again, this time a Gradute Certificate in Clinical Practice (Paramedics) through Charles Sturt University and now Jo could see her dream career getting a little bit closer. She also spent her spare time baking and now has a reputation for baking amazing cakes.
After the 2013 domestic racing season, where Jo regained her National Title in the K1 200m - a title she hadn't held since 2010, before her first shoulder reconstruction, Jo felt she had just got back to her best form in the K1. Jo raced at the Australian Championships in Surf Life Saving for Manly Life Saving Club. Jo had just jumped on her surf ski to paddler her leg in the ski relay final. When she was going over a wave she felt her left shoulder give way. Her shoulder was dislocated and she instantly knew it was again, a devastating injury. Jo had her second shoulder reconstruction and again spent 6 months out of the kayak, working hard in the gym as part of her rehabilitation.
Jo made another successful come back to the sport in 2014 and picked up 5 National Titles. Having now had two potentially career ending injuries, this taught Jo a lot about herself. It made her more determined to become a better athlete. Jo had a great international season in 2014 placing 7th at the World Championships in the K2 500m. 2015 was big year for the team as it was Olympic qualifications. The Australian team decided to focus on the K4 500m, to qualify more quota positions. In the end the girls missed out on qualifying these quota positions by 0.08 seconds.
2016 was a important year on the calendar and Jo put everything into her preparation to make the Olympic Team. Jo was paddling very well in training and it showed in racing. At the first round of Olympic selection trials Jo won the K1 200m and K1 500m races and places second in the K2 500m. At the second round of Olympic trials, Jo again won the K1 200m event but was second in the K1 500m and K2 500m, which meant she had to paddle on at the World Cup to earn her place on the team. Due to the selection policy, it now became a race off between the K1 200m & 500m events. Jo was only allowed to race the K1 room event and din't have a great performance at the World Cup, which ultimately meant that Jo lost out on selection to the Olympic Team in 2016. Jo was devastated as she was at her peak, producing PB's, won multiple selection races, yet still didn't achieve her goal of racing at a second Olympics.
Jo took a break from the sport and ultimately didn't know if she would ever return to the sport she loved. She felt the World Cup in 2016 was the last time she would race in the green and gold for Australia. But as they say, when one door closes, another opens. Just 5 weeks after missing out on Olympic Selection, Jo began her dream career as a paramedic. She loved it from the moment she started and knew it was the right profession for her.
Jo was drawn back to paddling, as she loves the sport and has great friends who were still training and racing. Jo decided to go along to training to keep fit and for the coffee catch ups after training. It was her competitive nature that kicked in and she decided to keep racing. Incredibly at the 2017 National Championships, Jo won the K1 200m. Even Jo was baffled, but delighted. Jo hadn't been able to train as much as she used to given her full time shift work hours. Jo continued to pursue full time work and training and went on to race internationally bringing home two silver medals at the World Cups and a place in the K1 500m A final at the World Championships Given this is one of the toughest events and Jo was racing against girls who train full time for a Job, Jo did an amazing job to get into that final.
2018 saw Jo make the National Team for a 15th year in a row and headed to the World Cup series in Hungary and Germany. At at first World Cup Jo and her teammates surprised themselves when they won the silver medal in the K4 500m and set a new Australian record. It was this result that Jo realised she still had a lot more to achieve on the international stage, and decided that with just 2 years to the Olympics, why not go for it.
2019 was a critical year as Olympic country quota places needed to be secured at the World Championships. Jo successfully combine with her K4 crew to finish 7th at the World Championships in Hungary and quilting Australia 4 positions at the Tokyo Olympics.
2020 was set to be Jo’s last year of competing paddling and she was excited for the year ahead. Jo paddled exceptionally well at the Australia Olympic selection trials. Jo finished 2nd in the K1 500m to automatically secure her position on the Olympic Team, making it 17 straight years of National Team representation. Jo won the K1 200m title in a person, best time. Shortly after the selection trials, the Olympics were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Jo was heartbroken by this decision and the finish line seemed so close, yet now it was 17 months away. With the Olympics postponement, the world thrown into lockdown and training facilities, jo decided her community needed support during the pandemic and returned to work full time. Jo enjoyed the distraction of work while there were many uncertainties remaining about sport, training and the Olympics. During lockdown Jo continued to train to make sure she was ready for the Olympics in 2021. Jo gained worldwide recognition during the pandemic for her paramedic work and as she perused her Olympic ambitions. Jo featured in Vogue magazine, the Olympic channels, NBC, Sunday Telegraph, multiple news outlets and Family Feud game show.
In late 2021, Jo was required to relocate from her home base in Sydney to the Gold Coast to train with her Olympic Teammates. With the Australian State borders continually closing due to COVID-19 outbreak, travel between states made it impossible. Jo has been fortunate to be support by her employee, NSW Ambulance who support a work location transfer from Sydney to Tweed Heads station, meaning Jo could continue to work two 12 hours shifts a week around her training program. Jo now is in heavy training, preparing for the postponed Olympics. Jo is excited for the opportunity to finally get on the start line in Tokyo.