Both of Canada’s rowing crews at the 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo next month will feature athletes from the Cowichan Valley.
Kyle Fredrickson of Duncan qualified with Canada’s PR3 mixed four team, who won their final race at the Final Paralympic Qualification Regatta in Italy in May, while Jessye Brockway of Mill Bay and her partner Jeremy Hall were awarded a quota spot in the PR2 mixed double through World Rowing quota allocation.
Fredrickson and his teammates, Bayleigh Hooper, Andrew Todd, Victoria Nolan and cox Laura Court improved on their event-best time from the heats to finish first in the PR3 Mix4+ final. Their time of 7:08.87 put them across the line just ahead of the Brazilian team, which took the other qualifying spot.
Fredrickson and Todd are two-time gold medallists at the World Rowing Championships, winning the PR3 men’s pair in 2018 and 2019. The 2020 World Championships were cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as is the 2021 event. The Paralympics only include four rowing events: the PR3 mixed four and PR2 mixed double, and PR1 men’s and women’s singles.
A 2017 graduate of Shawnigan Lake School, Fredrickson went to the University of Victoria where he competed with the Vikes rowing team for one semester before he was invited to the National Training Centre at the beginning of 2018.
“I’m looking forward to showing the world what Canada has to offer,” Fredrickson told Shawnigan’s website. “The experience is very special and one I have looked forward to my whole life. I am grateful for the opportunity to row for Canada and to compete at the pinnacle level of sport.
“Shawnigan played a huge role in getting me to where I’m today. The facilities and coaching staff are top notch. It gave me the platform and opportunities to race competitively for the five years I attended the school. The lessons I learned at Shawnigan are ones that I hold close and shaped who I am today.”
Brockway and Hall finished in third place at the final Paralympic Qualification Regatta, behind Italy and Australia who qualified directly to Tokyo.
“It was not the outcome we hoped for, but we leave with our heads held high—we set a standard for ourselves and plowed through it,” Hall said on Rowing Canada’s website. “We pulled it all together when it mattered most and left everything we had out there. Proud of this accomplishment.”
The duo learned before the end of the month, however, that they would be going to the Paralympics after all, as Canada and Uzbekistan were awarded the last allocated spots in the PR2 mixed double.
“I’m tremendously proud of both crews,” said national Para Team Coach John Wetzstein. “We’ve been through a lot, as has everyone. We achieved our best performances to date and regardless of what the outcomes mean for each crew, we are looking forward.”
The 2019 World Rowing Championships marked Brockway’s debut on the world scene, as she and Hall finished 11th in the PR2 mixed double. Already a decorated para-athlete with several national and international medals in throwing events, Brockway has also represented B.C. in para-nordic skiing at the Canada Winter Games.
The 2020 Summer Paralympics are scheduled to run from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.