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!

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