Jessica Lewis’ mother Lorri Lewis reflected on the day her daughter competed in her first Paralympic Games saying, “The day had come – Jessica will compete in her first Paralympic event!” The video below is a three and a half hour video of the events but to go directly to Jessica’s race click here.
“Coach Ken had put the ‘hand cuffs’ on Jessica. She needed a quiet day before the event. Karen, Mark and I went over to the mall and met up with Jackie Rayner who was Jessica’s swimming teacher years ago – Jackie approached me when Jessica was only two.
“Jessica was sitting in a puddle by the side of the pool watching her sister Jacqui having her swimming lesson. Jackie asked if Jessica could swim. I said “no, she has no use of her legs”. Jackie replied, “I can teach her”.
“She started lessons the next week and by the following summer when Jessica was only 3, Big Jackie [as we now call her] had Jessica swimming – with no arm bands! Thus started her sporting career! Jackie is now a physiotherapist in Scotland, and she flew to London for the weekend,” continued Lorri Lewis.
“Lorri Lewis went on to say, “Jessica, Ken and Annabelle headed to the dining hall about 5.30 for dinner. Karen, Mark and I headed to the stadium. The 3 of us were teary just before we left when Jessica took the bloodstone crystal that her sister Jacqui had given her from her bag and put it in her pocket.
“Unfortunately, Jacqui is not able to be here in person due to college, but she is definitely here in spirit. Racing started at 7 pm. We were seated in the VIP lounge and we were all nervous.”
“I didn’t get to watch too much as my blackberry was going none stop with people wishing Jessica well. It was incredible, and huge thanks to everyone for believing in and encouraging Jessica! Kate Middleton presented some medals, then came up to the area where we were,” Lorri Lewis went on to say.
“Soon after, it was time for Jessica’s race. Her competitors came out on the track in a line but not Jessica. We then started to worry thinking that the officials had found something wrong with her uniform and they were not going to let her race.
“We had had a uniform check earlier in the week and they had passed her racing wear, but we received a notice that it would be checked again at the warm-up track. Finally Jessica appeared – all by herself! She did a lap of the track about 150 meters behind everyone else.
“It was quite a vision seeing Jessica doing an easy push all alone on the track, heading to the start line. We found out after the race that she was trying to take off her jacket and her glove got stuck!! Officials very kindly helped her out.
“What a sight to see Jessica on the start line with her mentor, Anjali Forber-Pratt – at the highest level of competition. During the introduction, they mentioned that Jessica was ranked 7th in the world in this event. For a 65 pound red head who has only been racing for 3 years, this is incredible,” continued Lorri Lewis.
“The gun went off and they were all off down the track. The crowd of 80,000 was unbelievable! We were all cheering like crazy. When Jessica crossed the line in 8th place we were all so proud. Jessica had made history – being the first Bermudian to compete in wheelchair track at the Paralympic level,” said the proud mother.
“Before the race, Coach Ken had told Jessica, “This is everything we have worked for all season. Go out and have a good technical race and have fun. Enjoy the moment,” concluded Lorri Lewis.
Lewis’ Facebook status today reads: “Wow what a feeling it was to race in front of 80,000 people. I can’t even describe how amazing it felt to wear Bermuda on my back and race among the top women in the world. Thanks for all the support and kind words everyone. My Paralympic debut was a success.”
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- Lewis Carries Bermuda Flag In Mexico
- Jessica Lewis Competes In Arizona, Switzerland