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Jessica Lewis breaks Americas record that stood for 27 years

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Jessica Lewis set Americas record in the 100 metres in Switzerland

Female Athlete of the Year Jessica Lewis has received a huge confidence boost after breaking a record that has stood for 27 years.

Lewis, competing in the World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Nottwil, Switzerland, broke the T53 100 metres Americas record when crossing the line in 16.12sec, beating LeAnn Shannon’s 1997 time of 16.23.

An understandably delighted Lewis is still basking in the glory of the record and a fantastic few days in Europe

“It has been a great few days,” Lewis said.

“The record was set in 1997 and it feels absolutely amazing to break it. It was definitely a goal of mine to achieve it this season, so to be able to do it so early on in the season, in our first race in the circuit in Europe right now, was absolutely amazing.

“Overall, Switzerland was fantastic. Obviously, the record was the highlight but I also had some great 400 metres races as well and almost hit a PB there, so I’m very excited to see that.

Jessica Lewis wins Female Athlete of Year award (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

“I’ve been working with coach Geoff [Harris] now for about a year so I think I’m slowly getting used to all the changes that we’ve made and moving forward we’re going to be seeing the progression of this past year and all the work we’ve put in.”

Despite winning gold at the Parapan Am Games in Chile in November, Lewis has had a year of upheaval after joining Harris and changing her racing chair and the relative pain of the last few months has now changed to the pleasure of again flying down the track.

“At the beginning of the year, in Dubai and in Kobe, I was still feeling a bit frustrated with the performances but everything is clicking into place now,” Lewis said.

“That has to do with the training plans we’ve been doing as we want to peak at certain times of the year so I’m just so grateful for coach Geoff and all the work he has put in to getting me here and getting that record.”

Lewis is waiting for official confirmation that she has secured a place at the Paralympics with a few days left for qualifying times to be reached but she believes she may have done enough to earn that all-important place at the Games in Paris in August.

“I don’t officially know yet,” Lewis said.

“They are announcing the high-performance allocation spots on June 28, so I should hear by the end of this month.

“We have until June 16 to collect all of the qualifying standards but basically all of the races that I have done within the qualifying period, which started last year, have been under the standard in the 100 metres, so I think I have a pretty good shot at getting one of those spots. Breaking this record now will hopefully push me forward too.”

Lewis is now working her way around Europe and competing in some of the biggest events on the European circuit as she racks up the air miles.

“We’ve just landed in Paris as we are doing the WPA Grand Prix on June 13 and 14,” Lewis said.

“These will be our last chances to get the high-performance times. After that, we are flying to Finland for two competitions and then we will be going back to Montreal in Canada for the Canada Nationals ,at the end of the month.

“I’ll be coming back to Bermuda for four days at the end of June and beginning of July just to go and see my family for a bit because I miss them a lot. Then I’ll be back into serious training and probably in a bit of a lockdown before Paris.”

A positive for Lewis is she still believes she can go quicker and possibly set new records, with both short term and long-term goals to be achieved.

“I definitely don’t feel that I have reached my full peak yet and breaking this record gave me the confidence boost that there is still some more speed that I can find,” she said.

“Paris is the goal right now but I definitely plan to shoot for the LA Olympics as well and then after that we’ll see where we’re at.”

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Published June 11, 2024 at 11:51 am (Updated June 12, 2024 at 8:20 am)

Jessica Lewis breaks Americas record that stood for 27 years

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