Jess Gallagher Summer & Winter Paralympic Medallist

Athlete

Jess... the athlete.

A journey full of twists and turns has created a career unlike any other.

 

Jess… the long jump and javelin thrower

(2007- 2012)

Jess discovered that Paralympic sport existed by chance in 2007. She took up athletics because she had done very well during her high school track meets thanks to her junior elite Netball and Basketball career. She wasn’t sure which event she would specialise in so started training in discus, shot put, 100m and long jump to see. Deep down she believed long jump would be her best as she had always had an excellent vertical jump! She qualified in all 4 events for the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, breaking Oceania records in Long Jump, Discus and Shot Put in the lead up. In Beijing she was classified out and was unable to compete. With her eye sight deteriorating further and after her sport witch to ski racing she came back to athletics and in 2011 won silver and bronze at the World Athletics Championships in Long Jump and Javelin respectively. At the 2012 London Paralympics she finished in 5th and 6th in these events, a severe knee injury 6 weeks from the Games destroying her ambitions to medal. Intent to win a summer Paralympic medal after heartbreaking campaigns in Beijing and London in 2014 Long Jump was removed from the 2016 Rio Paralympics event schedule leading to Jess’ switch to track cycling ending her athletics career.

Jess... the skiier

(2007- 2014)

In September 2007 Jess was offered the opportunity to learn to ski by the Australian Paralympic Committee after they discovered she had spent 2 winters in Vail/ Beaver Creek, Colorado on a working holiday where she had also learnt to snowboard. She jumped at the chance and found herself falling in love with alpine ski racing. After the 2008 Beijing Summer Paralympics she moved to Winter Park, Colorado to learn to ski race.

Jess has numerous World Cup wins and podiums to her name and at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Paralympics Jess along with her guide Eric Bickerton, became Australia’s first female winter Paralympic medallist when they won a bronze in the Slalom.

At the 2014 Sochi Winter Paralympics Jess won another bronze medal this time in the Giant Slalom with guide Christian Geiger.

Jess... the cyclist

(2014- 2019)

In August 2014 Jess was asked if she would like to try riding a tandem bicycle. Zipping around the track she instantly fell in love with the adrenalin buzz, it being somewhat similar to that of skiing. With her long term goal of becoming Australia’s first athlete to medal at a summer AND winter Paralympics and with Long Jump removed from the Paralympic event schedule meaning she could no longer compete in athletics Jess made the decision right there. She was becoming a cyclist.

In March 2016 Jess made her debut for Australia in her third sport and alongside her tandem pilot Madison Janssen they became WORLD CHAMPIONS in the Tandem Match Sprint breaking the flying 200m World Record in the process clocking 11.045s. They also won a bronze medal in the 1km Time Trial.  Later that year at the 2016 Rio Paralympics they won bronze in the 1km Time Trial. This result earnt Jess the distinguished accolade of becoming the first Australian athlete to medal at both a summer and winter Paralympics.

Throughout her 2017- 2019 World Championship campaigns Jessica alongside pilots Stef Fernandez (2017) and Maddie Janssen (2018, 2019) won 3 silver and 3 2th place finishes. At the 2018 Commonwealth Games Jess and Maddie finished in 2nd in both of their events breaking the both Commonwealth Games records in the process (these were unfortunately then broken by the gold medallists of their events).

After returning from the 2019 World Championships Jessica was removed from the Australian Cycling Team as they were unable to find a tandem pilot she could race with leading into the 2020 Paralympic year.

(2016 World Championship gold medal match sprint)

Jess… the rower

(2019- current)

After losing the opportunity to compete in track cycling and with aspirations to represent Australia at a 6th Paralympics Games at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics Jess realised her only chance to be there was to again, try a new sport! In mid-2019 she took to the water for the first time after taking up rowing. She is currently training with the goal of being selected to the Australian Rowing Team for the postponed Tokyo Paralympics to be held in 2021.