My name obviously isn't as common as Sarah Robles, World team member. When i met Sarah i felt like the luckiest girl in the world being invited to train at the Olympic Education Center (O.E.C). Sarah was just barely starting lifting and made every international team you could compete at. Junior Worlds, World universities, Pan Am Championships, and now worlds all within the year.
I started lifting in 2005 and I fell in love. I went through up and downs through out my entire career.
In 2008 i left for the O.E.C where i found out i made my first international competition Quebec Junior Championships. I placed second and had the best meet of my life. Life was great i was on the way to making the Jr world team or so i thought. I had been training two times a day and lived day and night weightlifting. I over did it. I got to Junior Nationals where i knew what i needed to do to make the team. I just had to do what i came there to do. Something i did every day in practice. I choked. Not only did i choke in my second attempt clean and jerk i pulled my shoulder out of place trying to save a jerk. I was out for 7 months.
Emotionally and physically injured i walked away. I couldn't be in the gym think about it or be near it without severe anxiety. After the break i healed. I'm back and in a big way. I'm ready. I remembered what i loved about the sport about how i felt and about my dream. The Olympics.
In 2008 i was named Athlete of the Month for the Florida Weightlifting Federation:
OF THE MONTH
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Steve Adams, Sales Representative
Name: Jessica Gallagher
Team: Team Florida Altamonte
Hometown: Longwood, FL
Weight Class: 58kg
Clean + Jerk: 81kg
Experience: 4 years
Next Goal: Quebec Jr. Championship
The FWF has chosen Jessica Gallagher as August's Athlete of the Month. Jessica represents Team Florida Altamonte and has been involved in weightlifting for 4 years. Anyone who knows Jessica well knows it hasn't been the smoothest ride...until the last few months.
Jessica walked into the weight room her Freshman year of High School (Lake Brantley High School, Altamonte Springs, FL). Too shy to train she only observed the first 3 days. After breaking out of her shell, she showed immense talent and athletic ability. Having been a former soccer player, Jessica had no problems with leg strength and squatting ability.
This talent helped Jessica to qualify for a national meet within her first year of lifting (National Schoolage, Merrillville, IN). Weighing an average of 50kg, she and her coach made a decision to move her down to the 48kg class. As would be the story plaguing her rookie years, Jessica had faced a set back. She failed to make weight by a fraction (she weighed 48.01) with no more time left to try. Coach Danny Camargo said, "We did everything right with her diet. She ate clean and healthy for weeks with proper fluids. Her body just didn't want to get rid of the weight." Under the rules set forth by USAW, she was unable to compete and was forced to sit out.
As heartbreaking as that was, Jessica remained positive and made the best of it. Always staying positive, she returned home to improve her abilities. One year later, at the same competition, she aimed to qualify for her first international meet. Fighting head to head with other lifters, Jessica missed 2 crucial attempts. This, coupled with other lifters having 6 for 6 performances lowered Jessica's position down in the ranking. Ultimately, she missed her opportunity.
But as always, "Jessica just keeps coming back", says Coach Camargo. Jessica may feel down from time to time but always finds it in herself to enter the gym each day. She continued to progress, and over the last 18 months, has done well enough to compete at every level (Local, State, Jr. National, Sr. National, and American Open). Her talent caught the eye of 2 different collegiate resident programs (LSU-Shreveport & Northern Michigan University). Overwhelmed at the opportunities, Jessica finally made her choice; and as of last month is a full time member of the United States Olympic Education Center at NMU.
Since then, Jessica received news that her performance at this year's National Junior Championship earned her a spot on Team USA's Jr. group that is headed to the Quebec Jr. Championships in Canada. Now, in her first international meet, Jessica aims to help Team USA do well as they travel in November.
Good luck Jessica. Although it sounds like it began tough for you, it seems the work has paid off. A true sign that never giving up is a valuable trait. The FWF supports all its Florida athletes, and recognizes determination and sportsmanship. Great Job.
To learn more about FWF rewards please click here for records or click here for the Florida elite program