Lewis going for gold in Lima
Jessica Lewis admits she will have a fight on her hands to retain her gold medal at the Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru.
The wheelchair sprinter won the T53 100 metres final in Toronto in 2015, setting a Parapan Am record in a time of 17.67sec, but expects stiff competition from her main rival, Kelsey LaFevour, of the United States.
LaFevour raced in the T54 in Toronto, but has moved classifications and has since been involved in an intriguing battle with Lewis in the blue-ribbon event.
“It’s going to be a really great race,” Lewis said. “Kelsey and I have been going back and forth as to who wins the 100 and I’m really excited about it. It’s going to be a really tight race.
“There’s such a fine line between the T53 and the T54 class. You do find differences in the core strength between the athletes and I had a feeling Kelsey was a T53. You have to work through those discrepancies.
“Whenever a new athlete comes along, it just makes you work that little bit harder to see how you rank against them. It’s definitely going to be a fight.”
Lewis, who headed to the Peruvian capital yesterday, feels confident in the improvements she has made in the longer distances and hopes to medal in the 400 and 800 at the Games, which start on Friday.
“I’m feeling really strong going into Parapan Am,” said Lewis, who won the 100 and 200 at the Canadian Track and Field Championships in Montreal, Quebec, last month.
“I’m using a different pair of gloves for the longer distances, which has helped me become a little stronger in those events.
“I’m looking to get on the podium in the 400 and 800, if they are included, depending on entries, and that will be an added bonus.
“It’s definitely within my reach. I have a good shot based on my recent results.”
Joining Lewis in the largest team Bermuda has sent to a major para competition will be boccia trio Yushae DeSilva-Andrade, Steve Wilson and Omar Hayward.
“I’m really excited to be representing Bermuda and this is the biggest team we have ever sent,” Lewis, 26, added. “You definitely notice the difference.”
After Lima, Lewis will switch her attentions to the World Para Athletics Championships, which will be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from November 7 to 15. Lewis placed fifth in the 100 at the previous event in London in 2017, crossing the finish line in 17.40 — her same time at the championships in 2015 in Doha, Qatar, where she claimed bronze.
“The Canadian team have asked me to travel with them for their pre-worlds training camp in Dubai at the end of October,” said Lewis, who works part time at a nursing home in Mississauga, Ontario.
“When you get a chance to work with athletes who are faster than you or a similar pace, it always pushes you to do better and train harder.”
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