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RACING IN THE RAIN – Jessica Frotten competes in the women’s 400m T53 final at Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on Sept. 2. Photo by DAVE HOLLAND

Jessica Frotten recovering from ‘incredible’ Paralympic experience

Paralympian and Whitehorse native Jessica Frotten has just returned from the Paralympics in Tokyo, Japan.

By Morris Prokop on September 8, 2021

Paralympian and Whitehorse native Jessica Frotten has just returned from the Paralympics in Tokyo, Japan. I reached her in Regina, where she was in the process of recovering from an acute case of jet-lag.

“My Paralympic experience was incredible,” Frotten said enthusiastically. “Unfortunately COVID did make it a little strange, but it was everything I have dreamed of. I mean, being a part of Team Canada, going to represent Canada, it was a dream come true.”

Frotten competed in the T53 400 and 800 metre races, T54 1500 metre race, and the Universal 4x100 metre relay.

She finished 8th in the T53 400 metre finals, and her four-person team finished third in Heat 3 of the universal relay, but didn’t move on to the finals.

“It’s tough,” said Frotten. “I think our restrictions in Canada were a lot stronger than other places that my competitors were coming from. Unfortunately some of my distance races didn’t really go the way I had wanted to, or dreamed they would. I made some tactical errors, unfortunately.”

Frotten explained the tactical errors.

“In those distance races … when you’re in the draft, you have to work at least thirty percent less than the person in front of you, and in the 800 I just made the move too fast. It really screwed me up. And then in the 1500, I don’t know – the first lap was just like warp-speed, and then, unfortunately, I just didn’t have anything else.

“It’s just things that in a regular year I definitely would have practiced, but I just didn’t have those opportunities.”

Despite her struggles on the track, she did find a silver lining.

“All in all, I think I did quite well for my first time at the big show,” Frotten said. “I made the final in the 400, and our relay team got a personal best, and we set a Canadian record for our relay, so we’re pretty proud about that.”

As for what impact an empty stadium had on her performance, Frotten said “It’s hard to say. People were definitely missed. I really missed having my family and friends there to share those moments with me. Like being in that stadium and just imagining how loud, and how much energy could have been there … it definitely played a part I’m sure.”

I asked Frotten if a lack of competitions leading up to the games was a factor in her performance.

“It really was. And I tried to go in really confident in my training. My training had been excellent, but I was missing that competition piece big-time … I hadn’t seen any of my competitors since worlds … unfortunately that played a part in my performances.”

Of course, Frotten will bring back many special memories with her.

“Being a part of the team was a memory I’m going to have forever. Our athletics team … was small, but we were pretty mighty. We won ... I think it was two golds, four silvers, and two bronze.

“But we all placed top eight, we all made finals, so I’m so proud of what our team did, and we came together so strongly as a team, and we had such amazing support staff there. Memories that will last a lifetime.”

Despite not making it to the podium, Frotten enjoyed the overall atmosphere of the games.

“I wish so much that Tokyo could have welcomed the world, because they were so ready. The stadium was the most beautiful stadium I’ve ever been in.

“And the competition – everything ran so smoothly. We got poured on a couple times, but I can’t control the weather. But everything was just so wonderful. We were so warmly welcomed everywhere we went, and all the volunteers were so happy we were there.”

The Para-athletes spent their entire time at the games in the bubble. “All in all, they were super safe. We were tested every single day. There were some small outbreaks – I wouldn’t even call them outbreaks – there were a few cases in the village, but everything was very safe. I always felt safe while I was there.

“It was unfortunate not to go out and really see Tokyo, or see Japan, but, yeah, we had to play it safe for everybody.”

“We weren’t even allowed to go watch other competitions. Our accreditation only got us into the stadium and the village.”

Frotten also missed out on the opening and closing ceremonies. She was training in Gifu, Japan during the opening ceremonies, and had to depart the morning of the closing ceremonies.

“You had to leave within 24 to 48 hours after your last competition, so I left the morning of the 5th (of Sept.). And then the closing ceremonies were that evening,” related Frotten.

Despite the restrictions, Frotten was able to look at the big picture as well.

“There’s never been a games like this before, so we got to be a little piece of history.

“I also feel like with all the coverage the games got – the Paralympics, for sure, the coverage was more than it’s ever been … and I think that’s amazing. And I hope it helps the Paralympic movement, to be a part of that, and make the Paralympics a household name.”

Regarding her future goals, Paris is looming off in the distance.

“I think I’m just trying to let everything settle in right now, but … Paris is only three years away.”

When asked if the games in Paris are one of her future goals, Frotten replied “we will see what happens. I think next year ... for sure we have Commonwealth Games, we have world championships, but the schedule is just packed because of this postponement.

“So Commonwealth Games, world championships, and then the following year, there’s another world championships, so it’s just a lot. It’s hard to think about right now. I think I need to break it down, and look at it that way, instead of looking at it like ‘holy crap, I’m just gonna race for three years non-stop.’’’

Frotten definitely needs a break right now.

“I do. I went into the games with a bit of an injury to my shoulder and we managed it quite well at the games, but now I really need to get some for-real rest and rehab on it. That’s my plan.”

I asked Frotten if the shoulder injury affected her at all while she was racing. She replied “I don’t think so. We managed. I managed. We had a really great team to take care of us but … it’s definitely something I need to take care of, because I only have two arms!”

Next up for Frotten is a trip to Whitehorse. She’s planning on spending a couple of weeks here in the Wilderness City. Needless to say, she’s appreciative of her substantial ‘fan club’ here.

“They had a couple watch parties. The time difference was brutal, but they were getting up in the middle of the night and everyone was connecting on … Facebook Live or something, and watching the races together. So that was pretty cool. I’m glad they were able to get together and watch and cheer.”

When it comes to visiting Whitehorse, family, of course, comes first for Frotten.

“I have to do a little bit of work before I take off again, but I’ll hopefully be leaving next week or the week after. I need to hug my dad!”

Comments (1)

Up 4 Down 0

Gail Ellis on Sep 8, 2021 at 8:45 pm

Jesse, My family and I haven't seen you since you were small when we came and stayed with you and your family. Your Mom's parents were my parents best friends, your Grandpa Boyle went to school with my Dad... anyways we have watched as much as we could to see your athletic progression. We are so proud of you representing Canada.. congratulations in your accomplishments...the best in your years ahead...

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