Jessica Lewis ‘heartbroken’ after missing out on Paralympics medal
Jessica Lewis struggled to hide her disappointment after agonisingly missing out on a Paralympic medal after in the women’s T53 100 metres final yesterday.
The Bermudian wheelchair sprinter went into the event with high hopes of getting on the podium in Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium, having previously been considered among the leading medal contenders, had the Games gone ahead as originally scheduled last year.
However, it was not be as despite a valiant effort, the 28-year-old, crossed the line in a time of 16.90sec, fractionally adrift of Samantha Kinghorn, of Great Britain, who claimed bronze in 16.53.
The podium was ultimately dominated by China, with Gao Fang clinching gold in a blistering time of 16.29, having outsprinted her compatriot and previous Paralympic silver medal-winner Zhou Hongzhuan (16.48) as well as a resurgent Kinghorn, in the final 40 metres to seal glory.
“I have a lot of mixed emotions,” Lewis said. “Fourth place is always hard to take because you know you were so close to a medal.
“It’s definitely hard to take. When you’ve trained so hard for five years and then to just miss out on a medal is heartbreaking.
“I felt like I started well and was good in the transition, but I just didn’t have enough power late on. I raced both the Chinese girls in 2019 and so I wasn’t surprised by them, I knew they would be really fast.
“I felt as if I was right in the mix and I know it comes down to such small margins in these sort of races. Five years of hard work to get here and it comes down to just 16 seconds of a race; it is what it is.”
Despite her obvious disappointment, Lewis is determined to focus on the positive aspects of her performance, having improved by two places from her previous Paralympic outing in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, when she finished sixth in a time of 17.25.
“Although my emotions are still pretty raw, I know I have to try and look at the positive aspects of the race and try and enjoy the moment that I’m in, competing at a Paralympic Games,” she added.
“I’m lucky in the fact that I have a really good support team around me here in Tokyo and they have helped to pick me up.
“I finished sixth in Rio in 2016, so I’ve improved two places and so I know I’m going in the right direction in terms of my progression.
“As I said, I gave everything over the last five years to get to this point, I left everything out on the track and so I know I did all that I could.”
Lewis will have little time to dwell on previous performances as she prepares to return to the track at the Olympic Stadium for her final discipline, the women’s T53 400 metres today.
She is scheduled to race in the second heat of the qualifying round, where she will once again come up against Zhou Hongzhuan, the defending champion, as well as Chelsea McClammer, who claimed silver in Rio de Janeiro five years ago.
Despite facing an uphill struggle to claim one of three automatic qualifying spots, or as one of two fastest losers, Lewis is excited to test herself against the world’s best and have opportunity to once again represent the island.
“I have to look ahead to the 400 metres now and I’m excited to compete against such an incredible group of female athletes,” said Lewis, who missed out on progressing through to the 400 metres final at the previous Paralympics.
“No doubt they will all be stronger from the few years and so it will be interesting to see how I stack up against them.
“I’m always proud to be able to represent Bermuda and tomorrow [today] will be no different; it will be an absolute pleasure.”