Kelly Gallagher is best known as the winner of Britain’s first winter Paralympic gold medal at the Sochi 2014 winter games. A visually impaired ski racer from Northern Ireland, she competes in all five alpine disciplines (slalom, downhill, combined, giant slalom and super-g) with her sighted guide at speeds regularly reaching 75mph.
In Sochi, Kelly won Britain’s first ever gold on snow, either Olympic or Paralympic in the Women’s Super-G event. During her alpine skiing career, she has had numerous World Cup and Europa Cup victories, amassed six World Championship medals, making her the most successful British athlete at World Championship level.
She became the first athlete from Northern Ireland to compete at a Winter Paralympics when she debuted in Vancouver 2010, securing the best British result at that games, coming 4th and 6th in her Giant Slalom and Slalom events respectively.
Kelly was awarded an honorary doctorate by Queen’s University Belfast for her distinction in Sport and received an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list 2014 for services to visually impaired sport.
She was nominated for the prestigious BBC Sports Personality of the Year award in 2014 achieving the highest number of votes for a Paralympian since 1990s. Since being thrust into the spotlight at Sochi 2014, Kelly has developed her skills in front of camera and is experienced in giving both radio and television interviews.
She was appointed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights as an Ambassador to raise awareness throughout the world of the human rights violations of individuals with albinism.
Kelly has a passion for helping others with disabilities, and is patron of the charity Ski 2 Freedom. In the past year she has been involved with social inclusion campaigns for RNIB and Sightsavers and regularly gives inspirational talks and workshops on topics such as the life of an elite athlete, overcoming challenges, the journey to winning gold, sports psychology and classification experiences.
Before embarking on her athletic career, Kelly worked as a Statistician for the Northern Ireland Civil Service and has a degree in Mathematics from the University of Bath.