Winter Paralympic bronze medallist Jessica Gallagher has confirmed her status as one of Australia’s best athletes after winning a bronze medal at the IPC Athletics World Championships in Christchurch.
Gallagher, who competed in the visually impaired F13 javelin, threw 33.75m to nab the bronze medal behind Serbian Tanja Dragic, who set a new world record of 36.74m to claim gold and Tatiana de Tovar Bricen (34.58m) of Venezuala for silver.
“I had a really good throw first up which was pleasing,” Gallagher said.
“I wasn’t able to pull out a PB today which was what I was hoping for and that would have pushed me up a medal position had I done that.”
This is the first international athletics event the 24-year-old has competed in since returning to Athletics following her successful stint in Alpine Skiing.
Gallagher created history at last year’s Vancouver Paralympic Winter Games when she became the first Australian woman to win a Winter Paralympic Games medal. Just two months later, she started training for the visually impaired javelin and long jump as her focus turned to qualifying for the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
“Javelin is a new event for me, I’ve only been doing it for nine months and for half of that time, I was injured. So I have had to do a lot of work in a short time,” said Gallagher.
“I’ve got to be happy, 10 months ago I was in Vancouver on top of a mountain winning a Paralympic Winter medal so to be able to transfer my skills so quickly and win a bronze here is really pleasing.”
Gallagher, who was discovered through the Australian Paralympic Committee’s Talent Search programme, originally intended to compete at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games in the shot put and discus. But in a twist of what ordinarily would have been good luck, she had her eyes re-tested the day before the opening ceremony and was declared too sighted by Paralympic officials to compete.
With deteriorating eyes, Gallagher has a rare disease known as cone dystrophy and now has peripheral vision only allowing her to compete in the F13 class.
Gallagher is the only Australian athlete to currently represent Australia in both summer and winter events and is the third athlete from Geelong to win a World Championship medal for Australia following Kelly Cartwright and Richard Colman, the duo taking home gold medals yesterday.
Gallagher’s programme continues on Thursday, 27 January in the F13 long jump.
In other Australian results, fellow Geelong youngster Sam McIntosh finished fifth in the T52 100m dash. McIntosh pushed well down the straight, crossing the line in 18.52 (w: -0.1), 0.23 of a second behind winner Salvador Hernandez Mondf of Mexico.
Tomorrow sees Kelly Cartwright and Michelle Errichiello contest the T42 100m in what will be a thrilling showdown between the two training partners.