Break a Canadian record. Check. Win national titles. Check. Compete for Canada at the world championships. Also check.
Whitehorse para wheelchair racer Jessica Frotten has had productive summer.
“It’s been a fantastic season,” said the 29-year-old. “I’ve really seen where my strengths are and I know what I need to work on, and I’m much more confident in my racing abilities. I’m so happy with how this season went and I’m so excited for the next one.”
Frotten wrapped up her second worlds appearance with two events at the World Para Athletics Championships in London, England, on July 23. After a four-day break from her previous races, she placed seventh in the 800-metre and ninth in the 100-metre in the T53 category. One of those she’s happy with, the other not so much.
“It was kind of hard to wait those four days in between and be ready to race on the last day of competition. I found that difficult,” said Frotten. “My 100 is the last 100 I will ever race. That’s how I feel about that race. But my 800 was my best race of the whole world championships. It poured rain, the skies just opened up, and the track was pretty much a lake it was so wet.
“I had a super strong race tactically — it was beautiful. I stayed with the pack and finished not even a half second out of my personal best. For a soaking wet track I thought it was pretty good.”
Frotten set a career best sixth place in the women’s 200-metre with a time of 31.81 seconds on July 15. She roared over the finish line behind American Kelsey Lefevour and ahead Canadian teammate Ilana Dupont. Great Britain’s Samantha Kinghorn set a world record of 28.61 in the event.
Frotten’s previous best finish on the world stage was seventh place in the 200 at the 2015 championships in Doha, Qatar.
“It was so amazing. In Doha I think the busiest day might have been 50 people in the stands watching. In London there was 30,000-plus people cheering — it was crazy,” said Frotten. “You could almost not hear the starter give commands because the stadium was so loud.
“The crowd put out so much energy and you almost just soaked it all up.”
A few days after posting a career high, Frotten logged a career low at the worlds. After finish the 400-metre semifinal with a time that qualified her for the final she was later disqualified for a lane violation — going slightly out of her lane.
“I’m devastated about the 400 — devastated about it — but I was in the last Canadian event too (with the 800-metre) and to finish it strongly, I was pretty proud, pretty happy,” said Frotten.
“We got to do some touristy things, got to check out Big Ben — he’s getting a facelift right now, apparently he’s tilting,” she added. “Just hanging out with the team, cheering on the team — just being a part of Team Canada is an experience in itself.”
Sunday’s 800 final marked the end of Frotten’s season, and what a season it has been. Frotten won four medals at the Canadian Track and Field Championships in Ottawa, July 3-9. She captured gold in the 200 and 800 events — the same two events in which she won her first national titles in 2013. Frotten, who races for the Saskatoon Cyclones, also bagged silver in the 1,500 and the 400 at the start of the month.
The Whitehorse-born athlete secured a spot on the worlds team with exceptional performances at three consecutive meets in Switzerland in May and June.
Frotten set her first Canadian record at the Daniela Jutzeler Memorial on May 25 in Arbon. She placed seventh in the 800-metre with a Canadian record time of 1:58.30.
“I’m not going to unpack my racer for — I don’t know — a month,” said Frotten.
“I’m coming home for some R and R, home to Whitehorse. I haven’t been home since Christmas time and I want to hug my nieces and nephews.”
Her season is done but Frotten is already eyeing Canada’s team for the Commonwealth Games next April in Queensland, Australia. Only two distances are offered at the Games — 1,500-metre and marathon. Frotten has done plenty of 1,500s, but never a marathon.
“I need to get a marathon time before Oct. 31, so I was just checking out a few,” said Frotten. “My options right now are Chicago, Japan, and Berlin, but I think the one in Japan is the one I’m going to train for and go do and see what kind of time I can clock. Hopefully it’ll be enough to get named to the Commonwealth team.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org