Two years ago today, Jessica Gallagher was on the podium at the Winter Paralympics and this year, she’s hoping for the same in Rio.
But she has to qualify first.
She’s competing this weekend for the Australian Para-cycling Team in the World Championships which will move her one step closer to her goal of competing in not her second, but her third Paralympic sport, which is just a little bit greedy really.
“It’s a tough one,” she told WiSP Sports.
“The Australian cycling team is incredibly hard to get onto, so there are only a handful of spots for women heading to Rio.
“Obviously the highest priority or the best option would be for Maddie [Janssen, her pilot] and I to win gold because that would pretty much guarantee us a spot on the team.
“Given the number of spots, anything probably under a silver might not get us there, so we’ll certainly be heading to the World Championships looking to step up on top of that podium. So quite a bit of pressure.”
Competing with a vision impairment, Jess rides a tandem bike with a sighted pilot
"I have a fully sighted, so an able-bodied, pilot who is on the front of the bike and they steer around the velodrome, as someone with bad eyesight probably wouldn’t do a very good job! And then I just sit on the back as the stoker.
It’s a pretty unique relationship as is the one with ski racing, because of the level of Paralympic sport the person or the pilot on the front of the bike actually has to be of a very high standard as well.
"I’ve been really lucky to secure a young talented rider, Maddie Janssen, and we work together to push that bike around the 1km.
“It’s a pretty hard event because it’s a sprint but it’s a long sprint, so it’s about a minute nine-and-a-half, which is what we rode last week. So it’s a pretty physical event compared to the skiing, which is a bit more mental and physical.”