College Taekwondo Athlete Fights Her Way Around The Globe For Shot At The Olympics

Between now and the end of July, a North Texas college student will have traveled to four different continents to compete at the highest level of taekwondo. She’ll fight the Paraguay Open this weekend. Jackie Galloway hopes all her travels lead to one place: the Olympics.

By Courtney CollinsJune 1, 2015 7:20 am

This story originally appeared on KERA News

In 90 seconds, Jackie Galloway fires off 25 roundhouse kicks that could easily shatter wood, glass, plaster, or a dinner plate. Lucky for us, she’s aiming for a training bag.

Jackie’s roundhouse is lethal. But this lefty has an even sharper weapon in her arsenal.

“A cut kick which is kind of like a pushing motion, like a jab kind of for boxing, is one of my strengths,” Jackie says. “So I’m definitely a lefty in front.”

You  can see Jackie’s famous cut kick below.

A quick cut kick helps Jackie control a sparring match, which is exactly what she wants. She explains how points are awarded at this level of taekwondo competition.

“Body kicks are one point and face kicks are three points. But then if you do a spinning move to the body, it’s three points as well or a spinning move to the face is four points,” she says.

Not a sport for the faint of heart. Taekowndo originated in Korea but it has only been a Olympic sport since 2000.

The intensity of a fight is part of the reason Jackie loves taekwondo.

“It’s also strategic and you have to fight intelligently,” she says. “You can’t just get out there and start swinging.”

Jackie’s a testament to that. Her training schedule is brutal. Daily workouts during the school year, thrice daily training sessions all summer long. She’s from Wylie and works out at a school in Garland.

Jackie just finished her freshman year at SMU where she studies biomedical engineering and she’s a member of the rowing team.

“So I would train strength and conditioning kind of stuff with them and then come do taekwondo in the evenings so I’m very busy usually with training all the time,” she says.

She’s just as busy competing. Jackie left for Paraguay Wednesday and will compete in the Australian Open a few weeks later. Then it’s off to South Korea for the University Games, then Canada for the Pan American Games then back to Korea for the Korean Open. All by July 22.

Each time she medals at a major tournament, Jackie earns points for her world ranking. In her weight division, she’s number 1 in the U.S. She’s ranked in the top eight internationally. “And I need to be top six by the end of this year,” she adds.

That would lock down a spot at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Jackie bagged a bronze medal last week in Russia at the World Taekwondo Championships which should boost her world ranking to seventh.

She’s a 5’10” middle weight and actually a little short for her bracket. She’s also got a huge grin, painted fingernails and intricate braid woven into her ponytail. On this particular day at the taekwondo studio, she kneels to help a four-year-old whose belt was unfortunately tied in an oversize bow.

She’s warm and friendly, but get her talking about competition and there’s ice in her veins.

“I have Jackie that’s normal, like myself, and then when I compete, it’s different. A different mindset and a different competitor’s attitude,” she says. “I don’t feel like I’m stuck in one path, I don’t have to always be hardcore in everything I do, but when I fight, I am.”

And fight she will, as hard as she can, for a shot at the Olympics.