A Brock University student will compete in the 200-metre wheelchair track event at the 2012 Paralympics in London later this summer.
Jessica Lewis, who is studying inclusive and therapeutic recreation, qualified for the Games at the Desert Challenge in Mesa, Arizona in May with a time of 33.81 seconds. The second-year student hopes to also qualify for both the 100-metre and 400-metre events throughout this summer’s racing season.
Lewis trains at Brock during the week with her personal trainer, Scott Frendo-Cumbo, using her track chair on a roller, which works like a treadmill.
On weekends, Lewis, who will compete for Bermuda when in London, trains in Mississauga with coach Ken Thom and a group of athletes competing for Canada.
“I’m known as the ‘adopted athlete’ because I’m the only one who represents a different country, but I train with the Canadians,” Lewis said.
Lewis was born in Bermuda but has dual citizenship because her grandmother is Canadian. She came to Brock University because it offered her preferred program and allowed her to be close to her coach.
Windreach, an organization in Bermuda that helps people with disabilities participate in activities and sports, introduced Lewis to many different sports and trainers throughout her life. But it wasn’t until 2008, when she met Thom at a Windreach international sports expo, that she started training to compete in wheelchair track.
She’ll be the first para-athlete to ever compete in the sport for Bermuda.
“He is a fantastic coach and I am so thrilled to have been taken on by him,” she said. “I definitely wouldn’t be the athlete I am today if it wasn’t for Ken.”
Lewis said she would like to work at Windreach as a sports co-ordinator one day.
“I want to be able to help people with disabilities from first-hand experience,” she said.