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Jessica (Jess) Stretton MBE is a 21 year old Wheelchair Archer, from Hemel Hempstead (Hertfordshire). She won her first gold medals at her debut Paralympics, Rio 2016 at the age of just 16 and now has her sights set on more success at Tokyo 2020 ...
Jess has cerebral palsy which has affected her mobility particularly on her left hand side. She was introduced to wheelchair sport through WheelPower’s Junior Camps at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, where she was given the opportunity to try many different types of sport. Jessica attended the National Junior Games events in both 2012 and 2013 and tried sports such as athletics, tennis and shooting supported by coaches and alongside her peers of a similar age. As well as the games Jessica was also a regular attendee of many of our Junior Camps. These single day events included many of the sports familiar to Jessica, and most importantly the sport of archery which Jess now enjoyed the most.
Jessica said, “The WheelPower Junior Programme gave me the confidence and belief that I could still participate and enjoy sports."
It was at one of these Junior Camps in 2012, and at the age of just 12 that Jessica realised her passion for archery under the guidance of her sporting hero and coach Fred Stevens. She was soon spotted by ArcheryGB, joining the performance pathway and the World Class Talent Identification Programme.
Although Jessica was now training to become a wheelchair archer, her chair was inadequate to compete in as it did not meet competition regulations and so she applied to the Rotary Wheel Appeal for help with funding her sports wheelchair.
"My Wheel Appeal chair has made a huge difference to me because now I can compete in my favourite sport at the highest level; My future ambitions in sport are to someday go to the Paralympics, I am hoping for Tokyo 2020 as I feel I will be good enough then and will have had enough training and time to prepare for it. Thank you WheelPower and Rotary.”
Jessica Stretton strikes gold at IWAS World Junior Games 2014
GB’s Jessica Stretton won gold on her international debut at the IWAS World Junior Games. Jess started the morning in roaring form, and at the first interval she found out she had already recorded a personal best. With nearly 3 hours of Archery remaining the Longdean School student from Hemel Hempstead had to keep the composure required of a world class athlete.
“It really hasn’t sunk in quite yet, but it just feels brilliant to be the champion! To concentrate I just blocked everything out around me and focused on the target and the task in hand of shooting. With thanks to my new chair from the WheelAppeal I was able to represent Great Britain at the IWAS Games in August and won gold! ”
GB’s Chef de Mission for the IWAS Games Stewart Jeeves said: “Jessica should be immensely proud of her performance here at Stoke Mandeville, especially the way she managed to hold her nerve in the final few rounds. Through her involvement with WheelPower’s junior sport programme she has found a sport that she is very talented at, and by applying the level of dedication to training that she does she has a very bright future ahead of her."
Following her success at the IWAS Games Jess continued to attend junior camps to refine her skills for archery. On these occasions, Jess was focused on Archery and signed herself up for every session available!
Jessica was selected to represent ParalympicsGB for the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games at the age of just 16. Jessica was the youngest archer at the Games but despite her age she returned with two gold medals on her debut! Jess won the Women’s Individual Compound W1, and also claimed gold in the mixed W1 event alongside John Walker and Jo Frith.
"I was pretty nervous, I felt like I was taking a step for the youth that can be in Para sport and showing them that it can be done and it will be done,” (www.paralympic.org/jessica-stretton)
"Jess had an incredible experience at the Paralympic Games which she wouldn’t have been able to have without you – Thank you." (Jessica's Parent)
Since Rio, Stretton has changed category and now competes in the Compound Open. In 2019 claimed individual silver in the World Para Championships in the Netherlands, setting a new world record in the process.
We continue to follow her career with so much pride, after seeing her fall in love with Archery at Stoke Mandeville to her now standing on the top step of the podium at the Paralympic Games. Good luck in Tokyo Jess!
Get involved in Archery
Click on the links/logos below to find out more about how you can get involved in Archery and the organisations that can support you in your area.
Archery GB is the national governing body for archery in Great Britain. Archery GB is responsible for all levels of archery within the UK from elite to development level.
The British Wheelchair Archery Association is here to help promote the sport of para-archery and assists with all aspects of the sport from grassroots information to elite level training.