Media Release by The Hon Bill Shorten MP

Birthday Girl Gives Historic Gift To Nation

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Kate Ellis MP, Minister for Sport

The Minister for Sport, Kate Ellis, today congratulated Jessica Gallagher on winning a bronze medal in the vision-impaired slalom today at the Vancouver Winter Paralympics.

“Jessica turns 24 today and what a birthday it is. She’s given the gift of a bronze medal to a proud nation and will take home the best birthday present an elite athlete could wish for.

“To add to her achievement, Jessica has made sporting history by becoming the first Australian woman to win a medal in Winter Paralympic competition,” she said.

Queenslander Eric Bickerton should also be congratulated for his pivotal role as Jessica’s guide at the Whistler Creekside run.

Eleven Australian athletes and three guides are competing at the Games at many of the venues used at the Vancouver Winter Olympics last month. The nine male and two female athletes will compete across 14 events.

This is the biggest team Australia has ever sent to a Winter Paralympic Games and it’s another great sign of the growing inclusiveness of elite sport in Australia.

The Australian Government has supported the Australian Paralympic Committee with $1.8 million for the winter games program since 2006-07.

This year’s Vancouver Games team also includes eight Australian Institute of Sport scholarship holders – all in the alpine skiing disciplines.

“Jessica has benefitted from the AIS scholarship program and today’s win is a chance for her coaches and support staff to celebrate their achievement too,” Ms Ellis said.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services, Bill Shorten, said Jessica is a great ambassador for people with disability.

“Through the skill and determination she has displayed in Vancouver she has shown that people with disability should be judged by what they can achieve, not by their impairment,” Mr Shorten said.

More than 40 countries will participate in the Paralympic Winter Games, with about 1,350 athletes and team officials involved in the ten day event, which runs from 12-21 March.