Geelong athlete Jess Gallagher will compete in Rio
(Picture: Wayne Ludbey)
GEELONG Paralympic star Jess Gallagher’s dreams of winning medals at summer and winter games took a big step forward with selection in the Australian cycling team.
Gallagher, who has already won bronze in the slalom and giant slalom at the winter Paralympics, will wear green and gold in the 1km time trial at Rio.
And with selection confirmed, the visually impaired cyclist and her pilot, Madison Janssen, can start to build on the bronze they won in the time trial at the World Championships in March.
“We need to make sure we keep our heads down and our butts up, working hard and making sure we are ticking boxes,” Gallagher said.
“We only lost to silver by less than a 10th of a second and the Dutch girls who won the world title were 1.5 seconds ahead of us. We are hoping we can shut down that gap given we have got four months of training”.
“Everything is going really well at the moment”.
“We are just focusing on making sure we are doing the hard work and, hopefully, we can put down an incredible performance in Rio.”
The pair have arguably the largest scope for improvement of the leading hopes. They first teamed up in August and Gallagher said it could take time before a partnership started to peak.
“It’s a huge thing, the relationship between a pilot and a vision-impaired athlete,” she said.
“With the pedals being connected to one another, you know, getting the feel for each other through the bike, getting the communication right and just working on both of our individual strengths and weaknesses (takes time).
“With me being so new to the sport, there is still plenty to learn and my body has changed a lot since coming across from skiing. It’s an exciting time.”
Gallagher, who competed in the London Games in long jump and javelin where she placed outside the medals, is relatively new to cycling.
She said selection for Rio was reward for the risks she took to chase her dream.
“It’s been the goal. Everything has been about getting to Rio,” she said. “It was a huge leap. I went from the top of one sport to the bottom of another.
“That long-term goal of winning a winter and summer Paralympic medal, that’s what the switch was about.”
(Jess featured on the back page!)
Article originally published in the Geelong Advertiser, June 02 2016