Who is… Jackie Galloway
Name: Jackie Galloway
Country: United States
Weight class: Women's heavyweight (67+kg/148+ lbs)
- 2015 World Championships bronze medalist
- 2015 Pan American Games gold medalist
- Ranked world No. 4 in the Olympic rankings for her weight class
Olympic history: At 16 years old, Galloway was an alternate for Mexico's Olympic taekwondo team in 2012, though she did not get to travel to London.
Olympic outlook: Making her Olympic debut in Rio, Galloway will be a medal contender on the heels of a successful 2015 season where she reached the podium at the world championships and the Pan American Games.
Taekwondo origins and family ties
Galloway's parents ran a dojo in Texas, so when she was 7, she began practicing taekwondo there. Right from the start, the competitive Galloway wanted to be the best, and once she showed a knack for the sport, her parents pushed her along into committing to taekwondo and always giving her full effort.
To this day, Galloway's family is still very much involved in her training. Her father, Gary, is her coach, and her brother, Austin, is her training partner.
In addition to coaching, Galloway's father used to compete as well. He went to Olympic Trials in 2007, though he ultimately did not make the team. He eventually transitioned solely into coaching, and having him around has been a boon to Galloway's progression.
"I feel like a lot of people might say that they would feel claustrophobic [being contantly surrounded by their family], but I love it and I definitely feel like that’s what’s gotten me to the point I’m at today," Galloway said. "Having it around me all the time, and always being able to talk strategy, and then having my dad as my coach, being able to feel like he has my best interests at heart and knowing my game in and out and knowing everything I can do. I definitely love it and prefer it."
As for her brother – who is younger by about one year – Galloway certainly enjoyed roughing him up in training sessions as they were growing up.
"He definitely tries to bring it to me as well," Galloway said of her brother. "He’s taller than me, so now he’s trying to make up for all those years."
To Mexico and back
In 2010, Galloway attended a tournament in Mexico just to get more experience and ended up defeating their world champion. Because of her mother, Galloway actually had dual citizenship in the United States and Mexico, and as a result, she ended up making it onto Mexico's national team.
"It happened completely by coincidence," Galloway conceded, noting that "It was just an opportunity I couldn’t pass up."
At 14, Galloway was the youngest athlete ever on their national team. But at the time, she didn't speak Spanish and had to move down to Mexico City, away from her family.
"It was hard, but I wouldn’t change anything about it because it's developed me into the person I am today," Galloway said. "I was alone and by myself, and I think it really helped develop my love and competitive edge for this sport because that’s what I had. That’s all I was doing down there."
Galloway, who eventually learned to speak Spanish, was in Mexico for about two years, and in 2012, she became an alternate for the London Olympics.
Afterward, she returned to Texas in pursuit of making the U.S. national team, which had been her lifelong dream. She joined Team USA and subsequently earned her spot in the Rio Games when she met the qualification criteria by finishing 2015 inside the top-six of the Olympic rankings for her weight class.
Typical training day: "I wake up in the morning and I have either my strength or conditioning earlier in the day. Then I usually go take a nap and get some food, and then later in the day, that’s when I do my taekwondo specific training, either strategy or kicking."
Typical conditioning workout: "In the mornings it will be running and trying to make it specific to a taekwondo match, which are three rounds of two minutes each with a minute rest. So I’ll do a 2-minute set [of running], but with 15-second bursts and 5-second rests to try to simulate an actual match."
Education: Galloway currently attends Southern Methodist University (SMU), where she is studying mechanical engineering. While there, she has also competed on the school's Division I rowing team.
Galloway will compete at the Rio Games on Saturday, Aug. 20. Every taekwondo match will stream live on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app.