CLEVELAND (WJW)– A Northeast Ohio native is Tokyo bound after recently qualifying for the upcoming Paralympics.
“I feel like I’m still in shock,” said Jenna Fesemyer. “It’s always something that I’ve dreamed.”
Fesemyer, 24, a Ravenna native, said she started wheelchair racing as a sophomore in high school in 2013 and instantly fell in love with the sport.
“I am a Paralympic wheelchair athlete, wheelchair racer so I will be doing the track events the 1,500 and the 5,000 meters along with the marathon distance out on the road,” she said.
She will be competing in track and field events as a member of Team USA.
“I think of wheelchair racing kind of as this feeling of flying,” Fesemyer said. “When you’re able to catch a good tailwind out on the road and I’m out there with my teammates you’re able to go pretty fast sometimes we’ll see speeds up to 30 miles an hour.”
Fesemyer is currently earning her master’s in education policy at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and will graduate in December.
She said she made many of her gains on the track over the past few years and benefited from the Paralympics being delayed because of the pandemic.
“Coronavirus was a blessing to me in that way in giving myself that extra opportunity to train for another year,” she said.
Fesemyer is a triplet and was born with a rare condition that forced her to learn how to do things differently.
“I was born with proximal femoral focal deficiency, try to say that five times fast,” she said with a smile. “Basically, it means I was born without my left leg and without a hip joint.”
Her mission in Tokyo is not focused only on gold, she planning to send a message the next generation of Paralympic athletes.
“The goal has never been to bring home a gold metal or to win a world record. the goal is to always take what I’ve learned and pass it forward to the future community of wheelchair athletes and a disabled young boys and girls.”
Fesemyer said she nearly qualified for the Rio Paralympics years ago and spent the time since then focused on making the team. She expressed her thanks to her village of supporters who have helped her accomplish this dream.