Lewis delighted to race for home crowd
Jessica Lewis will race before a home crowd for the first time in years at the Bermuda Invitational Permit Meet at the National Stadium in July.
The wheelchair athlete cannot remember the last time she performed in Bermuda but believes it was long before she became a Paralympian at the London Games in 2012.
Lewis, who will race the T53 800 metres, said she is excited to compete in front of local spectators and introduce the vast majority of them to para sport for the first time.
“I'm guessing it's been about seven years since I competed in Bermuda, before I started at Brock University [in Ontario],” said Lewis, who will race against Ilana Dupont, of Canada, at the Permit Meet on July 1.
“You can watch the races on TV, but it's totally different when you see the races in person.
“That's one of the main reasons I chose the 800 for the Permit Meet — to bring awareness of drafting and also showcase some sprinting in the final 100.”
Lewis has enjoyed plenty of success in the past few years, winning gold in the 100 at the Parapan Am Games in Toronto in 2015 where she became the first Bermudian to medal at a major para-sports competition.
She reached a new high at the IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha, Qatar, that same year, claiming bronze in the 100 before competing at the Paralympics in Rio, placing sixth in the 100 final.
The 24-year-old said she is eyeing more medal success at the World Championships in London in July.
“To make the podium would be pretty awesome,” said Lewis, who has moved to Mississauga to be nearer to her coach Ken Thom.
“But we just go to focus on our race and technique and the time and medals will come.
“I've been working on my endurance and power at the end of the race. That's where I'm getting caught right now as the other girls are stronger than me.”
Lewis will join several other top Bermudian athletes at the second annual Permit Meet, including Tyrone Smith, Tre Houston, Shaquille Dill, Dage Minors and Lamont Marshall.
Donna Raynor, the Bermuda National Athletics Association president, said she has been inundated with requests from top overseas athletes looking to qualify for the World Championships in London in August.
“We have had streams and streams of mail coming in during the past week from top-class athletes who want to compete at the Permit Meet,” she said.
“It's very close to the World Championships and now we have a Permit Meet circuit in the Caribbean, I think it's attractive to a lot of athletes rather than having to travel to Europe.
“We're oversubscribed for each event so we'll have to go through that list and look at the big names and see whether we can afford them. Some of these top athletes come with a big price!
“I think it will be bigger and better than last year — I think Bermuda will be in for a treat.”