Big deal: Jessica Lewis will be the first para-athlete to represent Bermuda in athletics at a major international games. She will compete in the 100m, 200m and 400m. *Photo by Ras Mykkal
Big deal: Jessica Lewis will be the first para-athlete to represent Bermuda in athletics at a major international games. She will compete in the 100m, 200m and 400m. *Photo by Ras Mykkal

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 4: Jessica Lewis continues to be a history maker for Bermuda.

The remarkable teenager will be the first para-athlete to represent Bermuda in athletics at a major international games.

Lewis, a wheelchair competitor, will take part in the IV ParaPan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The 18-year-old started her first structured, training programme, under coach Gerry Swan, in 2009 and had her first track competition under Swan, last year, at the National Sports Centre. 

Swan described Lewis as “a petite, feisty and determined competitor who has no functional use of her legs.

“Over the past 21 months, despite periods of illness, surgery and post surgical care, she has worked diligently and  improved her racing wheelchair 100m time by more than eleven seconds; her  200m time by more than 17 seconds and the 400m by more than 55 seconds.”

She has qualified for the ParaPan American Games at all three events with times of 19.82 (100m), 37.52 (200m) and 1:13.47 (400m).

The qualifying standards in the three events are: 22.28 seconds, 41.83 seconds and 1:30.51.

Swan said: “Her best 100m time of 19.83 seconds easily met the  ‘B’ standard of 23.50 seconds and, not content, she pursues the ‘A’ standard  of 19.00 seconds. Her 200m time of 37.52 seconds is short of the ‘B’ standard by a mere two hundredths of a second.

The former Saltus Grammar School student now attends Brock University in  Ontario, Canada.

Swan said she is working out with a personal trainer at the university Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. On Tuesday and Thursday she has sessions on her roller.

Swan said: “The roller is a special piece of stationary equipment on which the racing wheelchair is placed and allows her to train (indoors) at various speeds and duration. “She is able to get feedback  from the various instruments that are attached to the racing ‘chair’.”

She also trains in Mississauga under coach Ken Thom, who directs a group para-athletes, most of them nationally ranked in Canada. Lewis will be accompanied by Ann Lindroth, president of the Bermuda Paralympic Association, Lorraine Lewis (Chef de Mission and  Jessica’s mother) and Swan.