'She's a warrior': Family, friends keeping tabs on Paralympian Katarina Roxon in Tokyo

·2 min read
Katarina Roxon has a bronze medal to her name already at this year's Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Roxon will swim again on Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. NT. (Buda Mendes/Getty Images - image credit)
Katarina Roxon has a bronze medal to her name already at this year's Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Roxon will swim again on Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. NT. (Buda Mendes/Getty Images - image credit)
Buda Mendes/Getty Images
Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Newfoundland's Katarina Roxon of Kippens swam again Monday night at the Paralympics in Tokyo, Japan, placing seventh in her heat in the 100-metre freestyle event with a time of 1:08.

Roxon has a bronze medal to her name already at this year's games with the Canadian freestyle relay team. She will swim again on Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. NT in the 200-metre individual medley.

Among the family and friends cheering her on from home is Jackie Chaulk-Nippard, Roxon's long-time friend and physical training partner.

Chaulk-Nippard told CBC Radio's Newfoundland Morning on Tuesday Roxon's run at the Paralympics has been an emotional rollercoaster for her supporters.

"But, she's a warrior and she's just going to keep on going," Chaulk-Nippard said.

Chaulk-Nippard has been along for the ride with Roxon and her family for the last 10 years, including through Roxon's gold medal win at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

She met Roxon at the pool one day, when Chaulk-Nippard was still fearful of the water. Roxon's sister, Miranda, convinced Chaulk-Nippard to simply dunk her head into the pool as a starting point.

"I didn't even know the family. I didn't know anything," she said. "Everything just sort of fell into place. We just started talking and then just became really close friends with the family and stuck with them all these years."

Due to COVID-19 regulations Chaulk-Nippard hadn't been able to train with Roxon for this year's Paralympics. She said between school, a training regime at a makeshift home gym and swimming, Roxon had a "crazy" schedule.

"Talk about somebody that is well-balanced," she said.

"She is the most amazing, humble individual that you will ever, ever meet. When she speaks to you, she makes you feel like you're the only person in the world that exists at that very moment."

And the support from the community is being felt.

Chaulk-Nippard said Roxon gets a little overwhelmed by the outpouring of well wishes, as banners hang throughout the nearby community of Stephenville, about five kilometres east of Kippens.

"Sitting down with her parents and watching any of these, they're so calm. I know they're dying inside. If she makes the finals or if she doesn't, it's like 'OK, it wasn't meant to be,'" she said.

"They've been through a lot. It's been 16 years that she's been competing."

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