Gallagher transitioned from training for alpine skiing in preparation for her bronze medal the 2010 Vancouver Games, to long jump and javelin at London in 2012, before transitioning back to skiing to win a bronze in Sochi in 2014.
Gallagher, who became legally blind in her late teens due to Best’s disease (an eye disorder which affects the macula), says safely swapping between sports at an elite level is a “huge challenge”.
“Athletics and skiing in particular are so different, and there’s a particularly high risk of injuring yourself because of the fast turnaround time, and the fact that you’re using different areas of your body to the extreme,” she says.
With a desire to win medals at both the Summer and Winter Games, after failing to medal in London, Gallagher was forced to change sports once again when long jump, her preferred event, was not included in the program for Rio in 2016.
She retrained as a track cyclist, winning bronze in Rio and recently taking home two silver medals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
She says she was confident she could continue to make the transitions because her osteopathic background gave her “a through understanding of [her] body” even though her body shape has changed “significantly” as she shifts her training to specialise in different sports.
However, Gallagher has sustained her “fair share” of injuries in the process. Allowing herself adequate recovery time while training is how she says she best manages her body’s condition.
“My schedule is so busy with work and training, so rest is actually a really important thing for me,” she says, adding that inadequate preparation before workouts is often what causes injuries for sportspeople.
“Things like making sure you warm up properly, taking the time to go through particular areas of your body that need extra work. I need to make sure that, in whatever sport I’m doing, my body is ready for it.”
After a surgery on his ruptured disc left him with complications relating to his sciatic nerve, Geddes started seeing an osteopath on recommendation from a new personal trainer, and the regular cyclist’s pain is now under control.
He says he is “absolutely” more conscious of warming up and cooling down when exercising after his injury, using a muscle roller as well as performing stretches and mobility exercises.
As for advice for fellow over-60s, he says that his experience has taught him that while you should not overdo it, maintaining the fitness you have is important.
“If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.”
Mary Ward is a Lifestyle reporter for The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, Brisbane Times and WAtoday.
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