December 30, 2011

Another year gone... another Paralympic year is here!

Well it’s that time of year again. It seems to come around faster and faster every time. Very soon it will have been 2 years since I won my historic Vancouver Paralympic winter medal, and yet it seems like yesterday. How Paralympic Games come around quickly when you have them every 2 years!!! In a newspaper article recently written about me it noted that 4 years has nearly passed since the disasater of the Beijing Paralympics. Reflection is an amazing thing, so much has happened and changed in my life since then.

Every day I am grateful for the experiences I have had, that I have created for myself and that lie ahead. The summer Paralympic year is upon us and I have no doubt that in no time at all the moment I have been working for will be here. How could you not be excited about the times ahead!

It should come as no surprise then that the past month has been a busy but exciting one both on and off the track.

On the track things have been progressing very well. It’s nice to be able to say that I am really happy with where I am but with the knowledge that there is still a lot more to do.

A few weeks back I had a fantastic opportunity to do some Long Jump biomechanical analysis with the Victorian Institute of Sport Sports Scientists along with Deakin Universities head biomechanist and some eager biomech’s in training and boy did I feel lucky. A crew of 8 plus myself and my coach testing Deakin Uni’s brand new digitizer machine- it had never been used outside with no less than $120,000 worth of equipment just to assist me with my Long Jump.

With 2 metre tall tripods, cables and cameras running everywhere it certainly did look like I should have been putting on some kind of show, oh and did I mention I was all taped up with electrodes stuck all over me? Looking increasingly like an extra terrestrial creature with every electrode stuck on, especially when they started putting them on my ears and forehead! 

(Setting up)

Lucky for me it wasn’t a beauty contest in fact every time I ran down the run way these high tech cameras would only pick up the electrodes on my body therefore creating a stick figure of myself running and jumping- pretty damn cool! This data then allows specific biomechanical analysis of how I run and jump enabling us to pick up the slightest of incorrect body angulations which mean a big deal when it comes to getting speed and really hitting the take off during the run up.

(Glamming it up electrode style!)
It’s amazing what technology can do these days and I must say a big thanks to VIS Sports Scientist Nick Sanders and Deakin University head biomechanist Dr Kevin Netto for setting it up for me. Also thank you to the PhD students who helped set everything up and make the day run so smoothly. Data like this is invaluable in my preperations.

(With my Long Jump coach Dr John Boas and Deakin Uni biomechanist Dr Kevin Netto)

Competition wise I have had a couple of low key meets to start off the season and was thrilled to bang out a new personal best in the Javelin at one of these. This was hugely exciting given the stage of training I am currently in and the timing being so early in the season. I have been working extremely hard and to see it pay off so early in the season only motivates me to work harder. With every day I am becoming stronger, faster and more powerful but as usual there’s still a lot to be done before London- there's always more work to be done!

Off the track and I took great pleasure in being one of the ambassadors for the 2011 Disability Sport and Recreation festival that was held at Fed Square. I presented one of the awards at a breakfast that was held and it was great to be around so many people who are so passionate and dedicated to helping spread the word and helping people with disabilities get involved in sport. I certainly couldn’t imagine my life without sport and I love being able to encourage others to get out there and give it a go.

                                    (Presenting Junior Sportsperson Of The Year)

I was also involved in the Victorian Government’s announcement of more funding to Australia’s Paralympic and Olympic teams. It was great to have Minister for Sport and Recreation Hugh Delahunty there and to know the Victorian Government is behind our efforts as we aim to bring home gold for Australia. If you missed the feature on me along with they’re announcement click on this link!
Jess Gallagher set to make her mark in London after Beijing ban

And finally it was with great shock to wake up December 27 to a tweet from a friend telling me I had been named in the Herald Sun's 'It' crowd/ the faces to watch in 2012!- 'They are the coolest cats who get invited to all the latest events around town. As we look ahead to 2012 Confidential and some of Melbourne's top event and publicity gurus give their verdict on who Melbourne's new IT boys and girls will be in 2012'

My friends and I were pretty excited by this! It's not often you see an athlete in the entertainment section with all the TV and movie celebrities! A lovely surprise and thanks to the Herald Sun for the support and lovely words!

(The close up)
(The article)

And of course how could I forget Christmas! I had a great time spending it with family and friends both in Geelong and Melbourne. I did continue to train and it wasn’t so pleasant sitting on the bike Christmas night pumping out a bike session with a belly full of food... ah the things we do for Paralympic medals!!!

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, have a fantastic New Year and bring on London 2012! It’s getting more exciting with every day!

December 11, 2011

Back in blog land!

It’s been a long time in the making and you may be wondering what prompted this resurgence after over a year of nothingness! I happened to stumble across this blog and read through my entries from my time at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Paralympics and it brought back so many amazing memories and stories and I realised how grateful I was that I’d taken the time to document some of the crazy things that I had experienced whilst at the Winter Paralympics. After all representing Australia in a summer and winter sport is highly unique and with London fast approaching I’ve decided to get back in the game so everyone can keep up to date with my adventures!

Now to avoid a ridicously long blog entry of the happening’s of the past year and a half here is the short version, let’s say the highlight real. I made my long awaited debut for Australia in athletics winning silver (Long Jump) and bronze (Javelin) medals at the 2011 IPC World Athletics Championships whilst in the process I became the first Australian athlete (Paralympic or able bod) to medal at an international major summer and winter meet.

(World Athleticss Champs podium)

I continued my ambassador roles for the Australian Paralympic Committee, 2XU and Vision Australia- most notably when Vision Australia was announced as the charity of choice for the 2011 Melbourne Cup Carnival- a lot of fun socialising whilst raising money for an incredible cause. I've also been to a bunch of awards evenings, speaking gigs and media events spreading the Paralympic message and love!

(With one of the beautiful Seeing Eye Dog puppies)

(Being interviewed by Sonia kruger for Channel 7 on Derby Day)

(Red Carpet at the 'I Support Women In Sport Awards'

where I was nominated for an award)

I jumped on board as an ambassador for Kx Pilates, a revolutionary new fast paced, high intensive body-toning workout that fuses the core strengthening elements of traditional Pilates with circuit, cardio and endurance training- I am hooked, come down for a class- you will love it!

I took some time off and had an amazing holiday in the US catching up with my US ski team friends and did some major exploring in New York City with my Mum- LOVE that place!

(On holiday in NYC)

I’m still working as an Osteopath and just love being based in Melbourne training for an extended period of time. The ski racing life may appear glamorous but I am not missing the cold at all! I miss skiing and the mountains but when I woke up 2 days ago to hear my home resort in Colorado was -12C and I was training in 30C I was pretty damn happy to be in track and field mode. A short and sweet message from my mate on the circuit summed it up perfectly in one sentence for me ‘I am permanently cold right now’. Brrrrrr.

With 262 days until the 2012 London Paralympics training is heavy and long, my 'A team' of coaches, strength & conditioning, medical etc have the plan in place and everything is progressing beautifully. The athletics season has just begun and I am excited to get plenty of comps under my belt!

Well that's enough for now stay tuned as I have some exciting news to announce in the next week… :)

Oh and if you're in Twitter land make sure you say hi! @JessGallagher86