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A Day in the Life of a Commonwealth Games Champion

Jess Gallagher

** Commonwealth Games update: Congratulations to Jessica Gallagher and her sighted pilot Caitlin Ward on winning GOLD in both the tandem sprint and the 1km time trial!! **

“What separates an ordinary woman from an extraordinary one? The belief that she is ordinary” – Jody Williams, Nobel Laureate

Ever wonder what the life of an elite athlete is like? The routine, the dedication, the sacrifices made and the hours of work required? We go behind the scenes with Australian Summer and Winter Paralympic medallist Jessica Gallagher in the final stages of her preparation for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in London and, just six weeks later, the 2022 World Rowing Championships in the Czech Republic.

As a kid, Jessica Gallagher always loved sport. Her mum was an all-round athlete, and Jessica loved watching her run around the netball court. Following in her mum’s footsteps, Jessica was passionate about both netball and basketball – and pretty good at them too, representing Victoria in both sports.

In her Geelong backyard Jessica dreamed big, playing out her own victories, picturing herself shooting the winning goal, decked out in the famous green and gold. However, at the age of 17, she lost the majority of her sight and was diagnosed with a rare, degenerative eye disease. Jessica believed her childhood dream of representing Australia was over.

Never in a million years did Jessica imagine that through the world of Paralympic sport, she would go on to represent Australia in four different sporting disciplines.

It’s been 16 years since Jessica started her Paralympic career, initially in track and field before transitioning to alpine ski racing. In 2010 Jessica became Australia’s first female winter Paralympic medallist when she won a bronze medal in the Slalom at the Vancouver Winter Paralympics. She moved between the two sports for the following four years, winning World Championship medals in Long Jump and Javelin before taking home a bronze medal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Paralympics. It was after these Games that Jessica learnt her premier track and field event, Long Jump, had been removed from the next Summer Paralympics to be held in 2016.

With the dream of winning Summer and Winter Paralympic medals, Jessica made the decision to try a third sport, track cycling. It was at the Games in Rio that Jessica became the first Australian athlete – Olympic or Paralympic – to medal at both a Summer and Winter Paralympic Games when she won a bronze in the 1km time trial.

It’s track cycling that will take Jessica to the 2022 Commonwealth Games, and rowing – her most recent sporting transition – that will take her to the 2022 World Rowing Championships.

So what does it take to be a successful multi-sport athlete? We asked Jessica what a day in her life is like… and fair warning, it’s exhausting just to read!

In sport, they say it takes a village, and for Jessica nothing rings truer with a dedicated team guiding and supporting her. Planning and preparation in scheduling ensures Jessica’s time can run efficiently whilst she manages her training loads and multiple work commitments.

Most days Jessica begins well before the sun rises with a rowing session on the Yarra River in Melbourne. The rest of her day generally includes a mix of either track cycling sessions at the velodrome, a gym workout, erg or watt bike sessions intertwined with speaking engagements, Osteopathic work or administration work for the variety of roles she has outside of sport. No week is ever the same as the last.

Jessica’s load is a heavy one, but it’s a choice she happily made because – as she says – it’s not every day you have the privilege of representing your country in two sports! Managing her energy is something she is constantly aware of, and over the years Jessica has learned to listen to her body. Through past experiences (good and bad!) she now understands when she can push, and when she needs to take a step back and regenerate from the demands on her body and her time.

As a qualified Osteopath, Jessica knows about the body, and there’s no doubt that her deep understanding of the physiological and biomechanical aspects of her sports comes in handy when transitioning from one sport to another. But she credits her team – which includes her tandem pilot, domestic and Australian cycling and rowing coaches, rowing crew mates, training buddies, strength and conditioning, nutrition, allied health (Osteo, Physio and massage), sports administrators and bike mechanics – with helping her maintain peak physical fitness.

So what motivates Jessica? The pathway getting there, the highs, the lows and everything in between. It’s what she learns about herself through these experiences that motivates her to keep pushing her boundaries.

Whilst there isn’t a lot of downtime leading into the Commonwealth Games and World Rowing Championships, it’s the road Jessica chooses to take.  Her life outside of sport is just as important to her, so in amongst training and competitions are speaking engagements, seeing patients in her private Osteopathic practice and the relevant work involved as a Board Director at Vision 2020 Australia and ambassador for Vision Australia and Seeing Eye Dogs Australia.

For now, relaxation time is rare. But for Jessica, she wouldn’t have it any other way. Her choices afford her the privilege of chasing opportunities, and a journey to learn, grow and discover who she is and what she is capable of doing. And for Jessica, that’s what it’s all about.

We wish Jess all the best for the Commonwealth Games and World Rowing Championships, and look forward to following her incredible journey!


As a sight-impaired high-performance athlete, Jessica Gallagher isn’t short on courage. Hurtling down a mountain at 100km/hr with someone else acting as your sight, or riding a tandem bike you can’t control at 68km/hour certainly takes oodles of it! As one of our most popular motivational speakers, Jess shares her unique journey with audiences worldwide, warming hearts and challenging people to see the world from a whole new perspective. She gives audiences practical tips and tools to create positive and sustainable habits to help them live their best life, inspiring them to break the boundaries of possibility. If you’d like to talk to us about engaging Jess for your next event, get in touch with us now!

Three Little Words, Life-Changing Impact

Did you know that 1 in 5 Australians experience a mental illness every year, while an estimated 45% of people will suffer from a mental health condition in their lifetime?

Thursday September 8th is R U OK? Day, a national day of action where all Australians are encouraged to ask ‘Are you OK?’ if they spot the signs that someone might be struggling. The meaningful conversation that those three little words trigger can literally change a life.

With a staggering 35% of 16-64 year olds experiencing high or very high levels of psychological distress, mental health isn’t just a community issue – it’s a workplace one too.

Businesses have a responsibility to create a culture where people feel confident asking and answering the simple yet vitally important question, ‘R U OK?’. It’s not only a legal obligation to provide a safe and healthy workplace, it’s also a moral one.

R U OK? Day is your opportunity to help foster an open, honest and safe work culture where mental health conversations are not only encouraged, but promoted. You just never know whose life you might save.

So how can your business encourage the mental health conversation at work?

1) Make use of free resources: The R U OK? Day website is full of fantastic information you can share with staff, such as this practical guide to asking R U OK? at work. Print off posters and other freely available campaign resources and make them visible around the office.

2) Hold a team event: Whether it’s a morning tea, sausage sizzle or team picnic, get staff together, show your team the R U OK? video and encourage them to think about the motivation behind R U OK? Day. You can even turn it into a fundraiser to support the R U OK? initiative.

3) Get the experts in: Engage a mental health motivational speaker to talk to your team – their unique experience, commanding presence and storytelling ability can have enormous impact and will help drive genuine change in your workplace. Whether presentations are held virtually, in-person or a hybrid mix, our wonderful mental health speakers are guaranteed to make a lasting impression on your staff. Here are just a few that we can introduce you to:

Chelsea PottengerChelsea Pottenger: Chelsea Pottenger is a proud ambassador for R U OK? and Gidget Foundation Australia, and a leading authority on mental wellbeing. An accredited mindfulness and meditation coach, Chelsea is Australia’s poster girl for mental health and a dynamic motivational speaker. Her presentations take teams on an incredible journey, showing them how to build their resilience and maximise their potential. Chelsea ensures her audiences walk away with life-changing tools to help them become more successful and energised, fully invested in improving their own mental and physical wellbeing. Read more about Chelsea here.

michael nagelDr Michael Nagel: Dr Michael Nagel is an Associate Professor specialising in cognition, stress, human development, behaviour and learning. Nominated as Australian Lecturer of the Year every year since 2010, Michael has been a guest on ‘Sunrise’, ‘A Current Affair’, ‘The Project’ and New Zealand TV’s Breakfast program, and has authored 19 books. His powerful presentations unpack the neuroscience around the positive effects of mindfulness, while providing practical strategies to help audiences incorporate mindfulness into their lives. Read more about Michael here.

emma murrayEmma Murray: As an accredited mindfulness and meditation teacher, NLP Master Practitioner and Clinical Hypnotherapist, Emma Murray is widely considered to be one of Australia’s master mindfulness and high-performance mind coaches. Emma’s strategies, exercises and daily practices are fast and effective methods to attain and maintain awareness, improved emotional regulation and enhanced focus. Her presentations show people how to feel re-energised, connected to their passions, confident and valuable, replacing struggle with calmness, optimism, acceptance and worthiness. Read more about Emma here.

Jackie Furey: A university-trained psychotherapist, Jackie Furey specialises in empowering people to bring out the best in themselves and the people around them in love, life and work. Jackie makes regular radio and tv appearances, and in the past eight years has spoken in over thirty major cities around the world. Renowned for her thought-provoking, dynamic and entertaining presentations, Jackie is passionate about showing people how they can have more of a say in how their life works, to know who they are and to take what they want and need. Read more about Jackie here.

gus worlandGus Worland: Gus Worland created and starred in television shows including Foxtel’s ‘An Aussie Goes’ series alongside Hugh Jackman, before hosting Triple M’s popular breakfast show ‘The Grill Team’. He then starred in his own television series, ‘Marathon Man’, which followed his journey from obesity to a lean, mean marathon machine. After losing a close mate to suicide, Gus created the TV series ‘Man Up’ in which he talks to men to find out what it really means to be a man today. Passionate about raising awareness and reducing the stigma of mental health, Gus co-founded mental health organisation Gotcha4Life and presents his powerful story to audiences around the country. Read more about Gus here.

tom croninTom Cronin: Known as ‘The King of Calm’, Tom Cronin is recognised globally for his expertise in leadership, stress management, mindfulness and empowerment, and his insights have featured heavily in media including Thrive Global, Sydney Morning Herald, Channel 9 Morning Show, CBS, Conde Nast Traveller, Huffington Post and Business Insider. Tom has authored 6 books, produced the hit film The Portal and founded The Stillness Project, a movement inspiring one billion people to meditate daily. His captivating presentations include practical tips and strategies, empowering insights and knowledge and a powerful meditation experience that leaves the audience feeling inspired and equipped to be healthy, happy and successful. Read more about Tom here.

sally cockburnDr Sally Cockburn: Dr Sally Cockburn is one of Australia’s leading health communicators,  having been a teacher, mentor and GP for more than 30 years. You may know her by her pseudonym, Dr Feelgood, tackling sensitive health issues and taboo subjects on her talkback radio show with professional ease and aplomb. Sally has extensive experience in mental health issues and, as a member of the Mental Health Reform Council and a board member of VicHealth, is an active policy maker. With an engaging presentation style and over 20 years’ experience as a motivational speaker, Sally is one of our most sought-after presenters. Read more about Sally here.

taryn brumfittTaryn Brumfitt: Taryn Brumfitt is on a global crusade to end body dissatisfaction and shift the way the world thinks about themselves and their bodies. As a best-selling author and director of the social-change documentary Embrace, Taryn has been recognised by the United Nations Women, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls and the Geena Davis Institute and has the support of high-profile personalities including Olivia Newton-John, Rosie O’Donnell and Ashton Kutcher who famously praised her activism as being “good for the world.” Taryn’s positive voice and powerful message has reached over 200 million people via the likes of the L.A Times, Washington Post, Good Morning America, The Project, Australian Story and The Today Show, while she inspires and enlightens audiences around the globe as a renowned motivational speaker. Read more about Taryn here.

robin baileyRobin Bailey: With more than 20 years’ experience in radio, television and corporate speaking, Robin Bailey is one of Australia’s most well-known voices. You may have heard her on Tripe M’s brekkie show, or seen her on one of her many regular appearances on TV as either a guest or host, entertaining audiences or candidly sharing her own family’s experience with mental health issues. Robin is a natural presenter who is known for her professional, friendly and down-to-earth attitude, and relates to people across all age groups and demographics. Read more about Robin here.


Our wonderful mental health experts, including Chelsea Pottenger, Dr Michael Nagel, Emma Murray, Jackie Furey, Gus WorlandTom CroninDr Sally CockburnTaryn Brumfitt and Robin Bailey are all passionate and entertaining speakers, and can help inspire real understanding and change in your team. If you’d like us to introduce you, simply get in touch with us for a chat.