JESSICA Gallagher has declared that a chronic knee injury would not hamper her attempt at the London Paralympics to become the first Australian athlete to win a medal at a winter and summer Games.
Vision-impaired Gallagher had her chance to compete at the Beijing Paralympics snatched from her when officials ruled that her sight was marginally too good to compete.
From what she calls the lowest moment in her career, Gallagher has rebounded to become the first Australian woman to win a winter Paralympics medal when she took bronze in the vision-impaired slalom in Vancouver in 2010.
The 26-year-old will compete in javelin and long jump in London and is a strong chance in both events. She won a silver in the long jump and bronze in the javelin at last year’s world championships.
She said she was ”in the best shape I’ve ever been” but her training, particularly with the javelin, had been hampered by soreness in her left knee. However, she said, it had been well managed by medical staff and she was confident the pain would subside. She is to have knee surgery after the Paralympics.
”[It] has been causing me a bit of grief but I guess the good thing despite all the issues with the knee is that I’ve been able to hit PBs [personal bests] in the gym and my training for long jump and jav is going really well,” Gallagher said.
”The knee’s not great and it’s not going to get any better until after London and I have an operation on it but despite all that I’m in the best shape of my career, so I’m happy with where I’m at.
”It’s exciting going into London knowing that you’re running faster than you ever have and you’re stronger than you ever have been.
”… It’s been affecting my javelin throwing but I’ve still been able to train a full load, but the volume of training for my javelin has not been to the degree that I’d like it to be, so that’s a bit of a concern knowing that I’m not throwing as much as I’d like to be or should be.
”But all the hard work over the past few years is really what holds you in good stead and now it’s just all a matter of it coming together.”
As for the memories of Beijing, Gallagher said she had moved on. ”I know that London will be emotional regardless of what happens because of the knowledge that I wasn’t able to perform four years ago, but I’ve got new goals and new dreams I want to accomplish,” she said.
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