Despite a stomach full of butterflies, being a Yukoner in mid-30 temperatures, and racing at her first world championship, Whitehorse’s Jessica Frotten made two finals on the world stage last week.
The 27-year-old para wheelchair racer advanced through semis to make the finals in the 100-metre and 200-metre women’s T53 races at the International Paralympic Committee Athletics World Championships in Doha, Qatar.
“My first world champs has been an incredible experience, filled with ups and downs.” said Frotten in a message to the News. “I’ve learnt so much in the past few weeks, and it has really been an honour to compete for Canada at this level with the fastest women in the world.
“I had some good races and some not-so-good races. Unfortunately I let my nerves get the best of me in a few. Being on the world stage is nerve-racking! Imagine that.”
Frotten produced her best result in her first event, on her first day competing. She placed third in her 200-metre semifinal to reach the final on Thursday. She then raced to a seventh place finish in the final, clocking a time of 33.07 seconds, more than a second ahead of eighth place’s Keiko Konishi of Japan. Canadian teammate Ilana Dupont placed fifth. Angela Ballard of Australia took the gold.
Frotten then advanced through the 100-metre semi on Friday to reach Saturday’s final, finishing eighth. She actually produced a faster time of 18.65 in the semi, than she did in the final at 20.02 – far off her personal best of 18.30, which she set in Switzerland last June.
“I didn’t have any PBs,” said Frotten. “The track here was a little slow, but the heat probably played a part as well.”
Frotten also placed fifth in the 400-metre semifinal and did not make the final on Sunday.
In her final race, she placed eighth in the 800 semi and did not advance to the final on Monday.
“The event that stands out the most for me, and forever will, was the 800-metre,” said Frotten. “I completely forgot it was a one-command start. I lost at least a second and a half maybe even two and I wasn’t able to catch the first pack of girls. I was super duper bummed after that one. On the bright side I will never ever do that again!”
Frotten qualified for worlds at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games in August where she won medals in two of her three events. She captured bronze in the women’s 400-metre with a personal best time of 1:01.13 and bronze in the 100-metre. She also took fourth in the 800-metre.
She was selected for the Parapan Games after winning five medals at the 2015 Canadian Track and Field Championships in July.
“Well I have some time off now from training. I am really looking forward to that!” said Frotten. “It has been a long busy season. I will really have my work cut out for me once I get back at it!
“I haven’t really been able to check anything out (in Doha) yet because I’ve been racing every day,” she added. “Now that I am all finished I will be kickin’ it poolside, soaking up all the sun I can before I come back to winter. Maybe I’ll go ride a camel on the beach.”
Frotten is one of 35 athletes and just 12 females on the Canadian team in Doha. The team participated in a two-week training camp in Dubai leading up to the worlds.
By the end of competition on Tuesday, Canada had won a total of 31 medals. The championships wrap up on Oct. 31.
“All I want to add is another huge shout out to the Yukon!” said Frotten. “Thank you to everyone for all the congratulations messages! I am overwhelmed with all of the support. Once again my Facebook has been blowing up!”
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