Jessica Lewis encouraged by ‛great start’ to Paralympics campaign
Jessica Lewis was left content despite missing out on a place in the final of the women’s T53 800 metres at the Paralympic Games.
Taking to the track for the first time in Tokyo, the Bermudian wheelchair sprinter finished last of six in the two-lap race in a time of 1min 57.77sec, more than six seconds adrift of Turkey’s Hamide Dogangun, who won heat two in 1:51.05.
Former Paralympic record-holder Zhou Hongzhuan, of China, finished second, with Catherine Debrunner, of Switzerland, claiming the final automatic qualifying spot, in third.
Despite failing to seal one of the eight qualifying spots for the final — as one of the three top finishers in her heat or as one of the two fastest losers — the 28-year-old was more than satisfied with her performance which saw her set a personal-best time, knocking almost half a second off her previous best.
“I am really pleased with how the race played out,” said Lewis, Bermuda’s sole representative at the Games. “I had a really fantastic first lap for me up against such a strong field of women.
“I knew it would be a long shot to progress into the final so my coach and I set my goal on getting a personal best and I am thrilled to have been able to do that.
“I haven’t been under two minutes in the 800 since the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, so it’s great to know there are still some fast times to come.
“Overall, It’s been a great start to the Games.”
As well as a personal-best time, Lewis will also take confidence from a strong performance in a distance not considered her forte, in what was also vital race preparation ahead of returning to the track tomorrow morning for her favoured distance, the 100 metres.
Lewis, who was considered among the leading medal contenders in the women’s T53 100 race had the Games gone ahead as originally scheduled last year, previously won bronze over the distance at the World Championships, in Doha, Qatar, in 2015 and also holds the Parapan American Games record of 17.67 seconds, set in Toronto in the same year.
She is also due to compete in the T53 400 metres on Thursday, her final discipline of the Games.