Some kids get in trouble for kicking others. Not Jackie Galloway. From the time she was 7, she had a dream of winning an Olympic medal in Taekwondo, a Korean martial art characterized by jumping and spin kicking.
When she first told her mother, Rose Galloway, Richland dean of workforce and continuing education, of her dream, her mom said, “When you do, I’m going to be in the stands cheering my head off for you.”
A mere 13 years later, that dream became a reality at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
When Jackie Galloway stepped into the Olympic arena for the first time, the first thing she heard was her family members cheering her name. They were on the edge of their seats as she fought her long-time rival, Gwladys Epangue of France, for the third time in her career.
The pair squared off in the bronze medal round where both parties try to hit each other’s chest guards as many times as possible before the clock runs out. Successful, Galloway walked away with a bronze medal.
She didn’t just hit her opponent. She also hit the record books. Not only is Jackie Galloway the second American woman to win a medal in Taekwondo, she is the first American woman to qualify in her 67+ kg weight class at the Olympics.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the family tree. Her father is her Taekwondo coach and her brother is her main training partner. Galloway left Southern Methodist University to train for the Olympics, putting in an average of 25-30 hours a week at her father’s gym in Garland where she focused on conditioning and strength-building exercises.
Galloway said because her major is in mechanical engineering, she translates those skills into strategy.
“I look at [Taekwondo] as a game of chess and I implement those moves in a physically compatible manner,” said Galloway, who studies at Collin College, with plans to transfer to UNT in the spring.
Galloway said her opponents are like puzzles: they all have different skills, as well as their own advantages and disadvantages. Each puzzle must be solved in order to win. The biggest puzzle Galloway had to solve at the Olympics was Epangue.
At an open match in 2014, Galloway and Epangue fought for the first time. During the match, Galloway broke a bone in her hand. Being a strong woman, she hardly registered the injury until a Grand Prix match two weeks later. Galloway had to fight one match without lifting her left hand and eventually lost to Epangue.
“She may have won that match, but I won the important one. And that’s what matters,” said Galloway with a smile.
For women of all ages, Galloway is an inspiration. She has followed her dream for more than 13 years.
“It was all really incredible,” Rose Galloway said about the experience of working with her daughter. “You should never sell yourself short,” said Jackie Galloway. She also commented that one of her biggest role models for her success is her mother.
With no plans to slow down, Jackie plans to compete in World Championships soon and in a few years, she plans to bring home a gold medal from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.