Growing up in Geelong Jess was diagnosed with a rare eye disease, cone dystrophy when in Year 12 at high school causing her to lose much of her eyesight. She is now classified as legally blind.
Following in her Mum's footsteps, Jess grew up playing Netball and Basketball, having represented Victoria on several occasions and being named as an emergency for the Australian U16 netball team. She also represented Geelong and Victoria Country in underage basketball.
At the age of 21 Jess randomly discovered Paralympic sport and was talent identified for Athletics. She was first selected to represent Australia at the 2008 Beijing Summer Paralympics but was demmed ineligible to compete due to the sight in one eye being 0.01% too sighted to be eligible. Prior to Beijing she had also been asked to try alpine skiing and so when she returned to Australia after the hearrt break of Beijing she tranisitoned to alpine skiing.
At the 2010 Vancouver Winter Paralympics Jess finally made her debut for Australia and assisted by her guide, Eric Bickerton, Jess became the first Australian female to win a medal at a Winter Paralympic Games, finishing third in the Women's Slalom, this achievement also happened to coincide with her birthday- what a present!
She returned to athletics upon her return from Vancouver and in 2011, just 8 months after the winter Paralympics Jess became the first Australian to medal at both a Winter and Summer event at international level when she won the silver medal in the long jump and the bronze medal in the javelin at the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand.
In 2012, Jess qualified to participate at the London Summer Paralympics, but tore her meniscus six weeks out from competition. Despite being severely hampered by her injury in both training and competition, Jess participated in both long jump and javelin, finishing fifth and sixth in her events.
She again switched back to alpine skiing and at the 2014 Sochi Winter Paralympics Jess won another bronze medal, this time in the Giant Slalom with guide Christian Geiger.
In pursuit of her long term goal- becomnig Australia's first athlete to medal at a summer AND winter Paralympics and due to Long Jump being removed from the Rio Paralympics Jess has transitioned to track cycling. In March 2016 she made her debut for Australia as a cyclist becoming World Champion and claiming a new World Record in the process in the womens tandem sprint alongside her pilot Maddie Janseen. They also won bronze in the 1 kilometre Time Trial.
A the 2016 Rio Paralympics Jess created stunning sporting history becoming the first Australian athlete- Olympic or Paralympic to medal at both a summer and winter games when she won bronze in the 1km Time Trial.
Outside of her sporting activities, Jess is also a fully qualified and registered osteopath, Board Director and global ambassador for Vision 2020 Australia, ambassador for Disabled Wintersport Australia and Vision Australia/ Seeing Eye Dogs Australia.
Jess is based in Melbourne, Australia.
So excited to officially be selected to the Australian #Cycling team for the @gc2018commonwealthgames! It was a huge decision to not retun to ski racing ⛷ & aim for my 3rd winter Paralympics but the lure of competing on home soil at a Comm Games was just too strong. Only SIX Fridays to go @maddiejanssen ...! Yessss!!! 💚🇦🇺💛🚲 @commgamesaus @cyclingaustralia @ausparalympics @gc2018 @vicinstsport #aussiecycling #paracycling #tandem #sharethedream #thisisqueensland
Sochi & ski racing feels like a lifetime ago! ⛷ Going to miss being at the winter Paralympics this year but something else exciting is on my mind! 🚲 Damn sport clashes... ! #Repost @paralympics (@get_repost) ・・・ 22 days to @pyeongchang2018! Let’s focus on @ausparalympics! 🇦🇺 Last time out Toby Kane claimed bronze along with @jessgallagher86 and guide Christian Geiger! 🥉🥉🎿 A word also must go to 11 time medallist @miltohq! 👏🏽
What a special experience carrying the @gc2018 #QBR2018 in my hometown of #Geelong! The sport mad community where all my dreams began! The weather was perfect, we nailed the 🖐, I didn't drop the #baton as I passed it to the king of Gtown @cameron_ling_45 & always nice to catch up with my fellow Geelong Paralympian @richcolman84 👍 Thanks to all the wondetful staff, volunteers & everyone who came out to watch, it was an honour to be there! Bring on the Games!!!