Jess Gallagher is both a summer and winter Paralympian. She has impressively progressed through a range of events; athletics (long jump and javelin), alpine skiing (slalom and giant slalom) and track cycling. In 2016 Jess created Australian history when she became the first Australian athlete to medal in both summer and winter events! Jess is diagnosed as legally blind.
On top of these remarkable sporting achievements Jess also managed to qualify and register as an osteopath, she gives her time and incredible input into various organisations (Vision 2020 Australia, Disabled Wintersport Australia and Vision Australia/Seeing Eye Dogs Australia) and spreads her positive attitude, stories and knowledge as a motivational speaker.
Somewhere in between all of this Jess took the time and graciously answered a few questions for “Pretty Powerful Girls”.
To read more about Jess check out her inspiring website www.jessgallagher.com.au or follow her on Facebook (athletejessicagallagher), Instagram (@JessGallagher86) and/or Twitter (@JessGallagher86).
When you were younger what female inspired you and how/why did they inspire you?
This is an easy one- my Mum! She was a single parent and worked incredibly hard to ensure she could give my brother and I the opportunities she never had. Seeing her courage, work ethic, persistence and resilience in overcoming challenges and adversity provided my brother and I the perfect role model and taught me traits that I now pride myself in having.
Now as a strong and pretty powerful female what advice would you give your 13-year-old self?
To stay true to who you are and that you can overcome any challenge that comes your way, a little dose of courage is all you need to have optimism regardless of the situation. When you face a challenge although it may be hard at the time you will learn more than you thought possible and give you so much strength that you can overcome anything!
Being classified as legally blind it would have been easy to focus on the things you couldn’t do but instead you focused on all you can do. What inner belief system did you engage to allow yourself to do this?
When I was first diagnosed being told I had a rare, incurable and degenerative condition was a big shock to my family and I but I realised very quickly upon discovering there was no cure that I couldn’t change anything about my vision so there wasn’t much point in wasting my energy and emotions on being upset or negative about it, sure there are times when it’s hard and challenging but I always try and stay positive and have perspective. I’m so grateful to still have the eye sight I do, there are millions of people around the world who have less vision than me. That perspective really makes me appreciate what I do have and focus on the things I can change not what I can’t change.
What does the word “powerful” mean to you?
When I think of the word powerful and what makes me feel ‘powerful’ I think of my inner or self-confidence. Being true to who I am regardless of the situation or perhaps pressure and knowing that when I am honest, authentic and pursuing my dreams and doing what I love I am at my happiest, best and therefore strong and powerful.