Thirty-four-year-old Paralympic athlete Jessica Frotten is preparing to represent at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, which began July 28 and end Aug. 8.
This comes after winning four gold medals at the national championships in Langley, B.C. last week and being made team captain by Athletics Canada.
Frotten is set to compete in the 1,500-metre wheelchair race at 8:30 p.m. BST on Aug. 4 at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham, England.
What makes this international multi-sport event special, according to Frotten, is its inclusivity. Able-bodied and Para athletes are interwoven into the same timeline.
“We all compete together in the same events at the world level. It’s a neat piece of these Games,” she said.
Among the 276 Team Canada members competing this year, 27 are Para athletes. Frotten is one of 10 members of the Canadian para-athletics (track and field) squad.
This is her second Commonwealth Games. She also raced in the Gold Coast 2018 Games in Queensland, Australia but got taken out in a crash during the bell lap.
“It was totally tragic,” she said.
“But that’s track.
“My main goal this year is to finish the race. If I play to my strengths, I think I will be pleasantly surprised.”
Despite dealing with a hip injury and being unable to compete in any of the major races leading up to nationals, Frotton says she’s “feeling really strong” going into this competition.
Wheelchair racing continues to change her life, take her around the world and teach her many things about herself.
Frotten lives and trains out of Regina but was born and raised in Whitehorse. She moved to Saskatchewan after injuring her spinal cord in a car accident just before Christmas in 2009.
Both her recovery process and racing journey began in Regina. She continues to receive elite para sport training from the First Steps Wellness Centre, which promotes functional recovery in individuals with spinal cord injuries.
“Saskatchewan has a really great wheelchair sports program,” she said. “I tried track and just loved it.”
Frotten says her best race is the 400-metre. Her favourite races are the 1,500- and 5,000-metre though because of the drafting element. Strategy, she said, plays a huge role. It’s not all about strength and speed in the longer-distance wheelchair races.
“If I can get myself just behind the racer in front of me, they’ll cut out all that wind and I can work 30 per cent less hard.”
When it comes to energy, every little bit counts for Frotten.
After Thursday’s “one and done straight final” race, she says she’ll take time off to fully heal her hip and regroup. She wants to be healthy and ready for the world championships in 2023 and the Paralympic Games in 2024.
For the full schedule and results of the Commonwealth Games, visit birmingham2022.com/schedule.
Contact Magan Carty at firstname.lastname@example.org