Yukon paralympian readying for Commonwealth Games after winning 4 gold medals at nationals

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Jessica Frotten, of Whitehorse, races to a first place finish in the 1,500-metre para wheelchair final at the Canadian Track and Field Championships in Langley, B.C., on Friday.  (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Jessica Frotten, of Whitehorse, races to a first place finish in the 1,500-metre para wheelchair final at the Canadian Track and Field Championships in Langley, B.C., on Friday. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Jessica Frotten surprised herself at last weekend's Bell Canadian Track and Field Championships.

The Yukon wheelchair racer suffered a hip injury after the Tokyo Paralympic Games late last summer and missed a series of recent races.

She said the injury made it painful for her to sit in her racer.

After doing a lot of modified training, she was able to get back to racing for the first time at the national championships.

"I wasn't really sure how it was going to go," she said.

It went well, to put it mildly.

She won gold in the 100-, 400-, 800- and 1,500-metre track events.

Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press
Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

The Whitehorse athlete, who now lives and trains in Regina, said she was especially happy with her 400-metre race.

"I felt like I just got off the line really well and finished it strong," she said.

She said by not being able to train while she was injured didn't seem to affect her during the race.

"I felt stronger than I have in a long time out on the track this past weekend. So I'm really happy with the way things are progressing," she said.

Commonwealth Games

Next up for the 34-year-old athlete is the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, beginning in late July, where she'll compete in the the 1,500-metre wheelchair race.

"It's going to be the first event to come back with less restrictions. I mean, it was such an honour to be in Tokyo and to represent Canada but it just wasn't a full Olympic experience with the way that the world was at that time," she said.

"So I'm so excited to get out on the track and be there with the whole Team Canada again."

The international competition is an integrated event where able-bodied and para athletes all compete at the same events.

She said the 1,500-metre race is one where wheelchair racing really shines.

She explained that drafting plays a big part in the race.

"When you're in the draft as a racer ahead of you, you have to work about 30 per cent less," she said, comparing it to when geese fly in a V formation.

"You don't necessarily have to be the strongest or the fastest racer. You got to be the smartest one," she said.

She'll be taking the next four weeks to work on some tactical pieces so that she can "put together the perfect 1,500-metre race."

After that, her schedule will be full with a Pan Am Games and a world championships in 2023 and another Paralympics Games in 2024.

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