After Pan Am silver, N.W.T. rower has her sights set on the Olympics

With the Summer Olympics in Tokyo less than a year away, a rower from Fort Simpson, N.W.T. is quickly becoming one of the territory's athletes to watch.

Jessie Loutit won silver for Team Canada in women's coxless pairs rowing at the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru last week. In a coxless pair, each rower uses one oar to push the boat forward. 

It was the first rowing medal won by a Canadian team at this year's games.

"My partner and I, we had a great race," Loutit told CBC after her return back to Canada. "We're pretty proud of what we did and how we ended up with the silver."

The medal is inspiring hope in the 30-year-old rower, who has her sights set on the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

"It gives me a little bit of confidence going into next year," said Loutit, for whom the Olympics has long been the dream.  

Submitted by Jessie Loutit

Loutit and her rowing partner, Larissa Werbicki of Saskatoon, finished the Pan Am race in seven minutes and 36.06 seconds, just behind the gold-winning Chilean duo. 

"We knew our biggest competition would be the pair from Chile," Loutit said in an email last weekend. "They have been rowing together for many years and are a strong pair."

After a somewhat disappointing first heat, said Loutit, she and Werbicki changed up their race plan for the final.

"We knew from the heat that we needed a faster start to hold onto the pair from Chile, and I believe that we executed our race plan well," she said.

Loutit, who is Métis, started rowing about a decade ago, while at the University of Calgary. 

On the water, Loutit said, she is focused on rowing and forgets about everything.

We knew our biggest competition would be the pair from Chile. They have been rowing together for many years and are a strong pair. - Jessie Loutit

 

"You just take a one stroke at a time and you're always trying to master that one stroke," she said. "It's fun. I love it."

 This silver is Loutit's first international medal, but Lima wasn't her first competition overseas.

Loutit raced with a team of four at the World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne, Switzerland in 2018, and  at the World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria that same year. 

Now she's looking toward Tokyo.

"The Olympics has always been my main goal, but there's lots of stuff that has to happen this year, so I'm just taking it one day at a time," she said.

Loutit said she's giving herself just a couple days of rest and then it's back to training for next month's nationals, which is the first step toward the Olympic trials.

"I'm nervous," she said, "but I'm just excited to be doing what I'm doing."