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2021 Women Leaders in Sport recipient says OAM for service to parachuting a career highlight

06 October 2021

Skydiving world record breaker Jules McConnel is an expert in controlling her nerves from 20,000 feet above ground, however receiving the Medal of Order of Australia left her speechless.

Jules McConnel OAM skydiving in China
Gold medal

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‘’I didn't believe it at first and thought it was a spam email!’’

The Moruya woman first jumped out of a plane 26 years ago and to date has clocked up more than 11,000 skydives.

‘’I started in Cessnock NSW when I was 19 and joined a team early in my career which led me to life-long friendships and an extraordinary life enabling me to view the world from a very unique perspective.’’

McConnel has five world records to her name however her biggest highlight was breaking an Australian record in 2012 alongside Michael Vaughan which caught news headlines around the country.

The daredevil pair jumped 150 times within 12 hours from above Moruya Airport.

‘’It was a marathon of jumping - get in the plane, jump out, open parachute, land and repeat. Volunteers helped us in and out of equipment, kept us hydrated and energised with nutrition and ongoing cheers.’’

When McConnel isn’t breaking records, she’s dedicating her time to the Australian Parachute Federation to support the next generation of enthusiasts.

‘’I joined the Australian Parachute Federation team as Sport Development Manager in 2019 to contribute behind the scenes with programs and initiatives to increase participation and retention in the sport. I also continue to coach and mentor in the sport to engage in the community.’’

It was for this reason McConnel was recognised in the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours List and a successful recipient of Sport Australia’s 2021 Women Leaders in Sport program.

‘‘I feel very honoured to be recognised for my contribution to the sport that I love amongst whom I regard as pioneers. I have so much respect and admiration for previous OAM recipients in the field of skydiving and still feel I have much more to give.’’

When asked what’s next on the horizon, it doesn’t seem McConnel will be putting the brakes on anytime soon.

‘’More coaching and skydiving, organising Australian record events and continue to raise the profile of skydiving as a sport.’’

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A group of five skydivers, with Jules McConnel centre, stand beside a tarmac with parachutes and skydiving equipment.
Jules McConnel, centre, with fellow skydivers after learning she would receive the Medal of Order of Australia this year.
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