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Gallagher adds summer medal to Games glory

AAP logoAAP 9/09/2016 Lucy Hughes Jones

Sport-hopping Paralympian Jessica Gallagher has become Australia's first athlete to win a medal at both a summer and winter Games.

The para-cyclist, who had already claimed bronze at the past two winter Paralympics in the slalom, won her third in the women's B3 1km time trial on day two of competition in Rio.

"I still can't believe it. It seems like a long time coming after being banned from Beijing for not being blind enough," she said.

The Melbourne-based rider, who has a vision impairment, was selected for the 2008 Beijing Summer Games but was declared ineligible on the eve of competition, as her right eye was deemed 0.1 of a degree too sighted to legally compete.

"It was so bizarre and just completely ironic. At the time it was just complete devastation," she said.

Gallagher and her tandem bicycle pilot Maddie Janssen set a paralympic record on Friday (Saturday AEST) that was quickly eclipsed by British gold medal winners Sophie Thornhill and pilot Helen Scott.

Gallagher won Australia's first female Paralympic winter medal on her 24th birthday, claiming bronze in the vision impaired slalom at Vancouver 2010.

She then switched to para-athletics, competing in the long jump and javelin at the London 2012 Games before swapping back to para-alpine skiing for another bronze in Sochi 2014.

With two disciplines already under her belt, the versatile 30-year-old decided to give track cycling a go when long jump was dropped from Rio's program.

She'll now need to reassess her future goals, faced with a sporting Sophie's Choice between the 2018 winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea and the Commonwealth Games on Australia's Gold Coast that same year.

"I've got some big decisions to make. At the moment I'm just going to soak it all up and enjoy the fact that we've just become Paralympic medallists," Gallagher said.

For now she and Janssen, who have only been training together for one year, will focus on the women's 3km pursuit on Sunday, which Gallagher promises will be entertaining.

"We've never ridden one. So it's going to be interesting," she said.

"We've got nothing to lose so we'll go out there and have fun."

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