Jessica Gallagher

Professional motivational speaker, osteopath, Director of Vision 2020 Australia and Ambassador of Vision Australia

Dr Jess Gallagher has grabbed a slice of Australian sporting history, becoming the nation’s first athlete – Olympian or Paralympian – to medal at both the summer and winter Games.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to ski down a mountain at 100km/hr? How you might do this when you’re vision impaired and being instructed by someone else acting as your eye sight? Would you have the courage to trust someone when they literally take your life into their hands?

At the age of 17, Jessica was diagnosed with a rare, degenerative eye disease, impacting her sporting dreams as a netballer and at the age of 21, by chance, found the world of Paralympic sport. In 2008, banned from competing at the Beijing Paralympics after being deemed too sighted, she continued to lose her sight and later became Australia’s first female winter Paralympic medalist in 2010.

Since then she has become a dual summer and winter Paralympian, won a second bronze medal at the 2014 Winter Paralympics and made the switch to a third sport of track cycling. In March 2016 Jessica made a stunning debut for Australia alongside her pilot Maddie Janssen the pair became World Champions in the tandem match sprint breaking the flying 200m World Record in the process.

In September 2016 at the Rio Paralympics Jess created stunning sports history becoming the first Australian athlete to medal at a summer AND winter Paralympics or Olympics after winning bronze in the 1km Time Trial joining only a handful of other athletes around the world to achieve this incredible feat.

Off the bike Jessica is also an Osteopath working with an elite professional sporting team, Board Director and global ambassador for Vision 2020 Australia and ambassador for Disabled WinterSport Australia and Vision Australia.

It’s somewhat ironic that the expert who might lead us into this future is one with low vision but an acute foresight around what it will take to thrive.

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