High hopes for Lewis in Dubai
Jessica Lewis is under no illusions as to the challenge she will face in chasing a medal at the World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
She gets her campaign under way today in the T53 100 metres heats, which start at 12.30pm Bermuda time at the Dubai Club for People of Determination.
Lewis placed sixth in the 100 at the previous event in London in 2017, crossing the finish line in 17.40sec — her same time at the championships in 2015 in Doha, Qatar, where she claimed bronze.
The 26-year-old will compete in heat one against multiple Paralympic medal-winner Angela Ballard, of Australia, Fang Gao, of China, Ilana Dupont, of Canada, and Zeynep Acet, of Turkey.
“I have really high expectations in making the 100 final and hope to improve on my sixth-place finish from two years ago in London,” Lewis said.
“It will be a very competitive and close race as we’re all within half a second of each other.
“It definitely would be great to get another medal, especially at the world level, as that’s what we always strive for.
“I know the competition will be fierce, but I’m ready to leave it all out on the track.”
The Bermudian said her preparations for the championships could not have gone better after being invited to a five-day training camp in Sharjah by the Canada team before heading to Dubai.
“I was so grateful that Athletics Canada invited me to join their pre-worlds training camp,” Lewis said.
“They have been so supportive of me during my career and it’s been great to be included in an amazing group of athletes.”
Lewis’s confidence is at an all-time high after her scintillating performances at the Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru, in August.
The wheelchair racer won medals in all three of her events, claiming gold in the 100 and 400, and silver in the 800. She also blitzed her previous record time of 17.67sec in the 100, set in Toronto four years ago, crossing the line in 17.36.
“I’ve gained a lot of confidence from doing so well at Parapan Am,” said Lewis, who will also compete in the 400 and 800 in Dubai.
“I’m really excited to see how it all stacks up against the rest of the world, not just the Parapan Am countries.”
Winning a pair of medals in the longer distances in Lima represented a major breakthrough for Lewis, as she has often struggled for sustained power in the 400 and 800.
She has credited her improved form to switching to a pair of harder gloves.
“[Parapan Am] has given me a lot of belief in knowing that my training has been working well and the transition to using my hard gloves for the longer events was the right decision,” she added. “I’m also working on bettering my time in the 400 and 800 as I try to make the final.
“Although I’ve been getting stronger in the longer events, with the field I’m up against, I know I’m still not as strong as others.”
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