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Roxon’s success was homemade

Swimmer Katarina Roxon of Kippens holds a Newfoundland and Labrador flag and the Paralympic gold medal she won in Rio de Janeiro as she talks to reporters after arriving at St. John’s.
Swimmer Katarina Roxon of Kippens holds a Newfoundland and Labrador flag and the Paralympic gold medal she won in Rio de Janeiro as she talks to reporters after arriving at St. John’s.

The gold trinket was enough evidence to prove Katarina Roxon’s drive and determination as an athlete — let alone one with a physical disability — but the fact she won a Paralympic gold medal with all her swimming training in Newfoundland was all the more confirmation the young swimmer willed herself to the international spotlight in Rio de Janeiro.

Roxon landed in St. John’s Sept. 20, an overnight pit stop on the way home to Kippens on the west coast where a big celebration awaited the Paralympic 100-metre breaststroke SB8 champion.
One of three Newfoundlanders in the Paralympics, Roxon won her medal Sept. 14, finishing in a time of one minute and 19.44 seconds which is an Americas (North and South American) record, breaking a mark she had set earlier in the day in a qualifying heat.
Not bad for a swimmer from a province that has a grand total of one regulation-sized, 50-metre pool — the Aquarena in St. John’s.

RELATED: History is her story, too

The 23-year-old Roxon has been training for the past 10-plus years in 25 metre pools.
“I was asked if I’d like to leave Newfoundland a few years ago to train, to go to better sports centres,” she said, “and I really didn’t want to do that. I love living in Newfoundland, I love how comfortable I am here, the support I get here.
“You know what? You don’t have to leave the island to achieve what you want.”
The Rio Paralympics were Roxon’s third since she burst on the scene as a 15-year-old at the Beijing Para Games. Since then, she’s competed on the 2012 London Paralympics, a couple of ParaPan-American Games and Commonwealth Games and world championships.
Last year, Roxon won six medals — including one gold — at the Para Pan-Ams in Toronto, and a bronze medal and a Canadian record at the world championship.
“The only time this summer I actually trained in a 50-metre pool was when I went to camps with Swimming Canada — two weeks in Gatineau and two weeks in Toronto,” she said.
“That was it.
“Everything else was in 25-metres and everything stayed the same. My dryland training and my normal swimming training stayed the same.”
Beaming as she answered reporters’ questions at St. John’s International Airport, it was very clear Roxon was still soaking up her gold medal moment a full seven days after her big race.
Later, at Confederation Building, it was announced the road between Stephenville and Stephenville Crossing — Route 490 — was being renamed Roxon Way.
Besides being a little older and maybe a little wiser, it was a different, more confident, Katarina Roxon who arrived in Rio three weeks ago.
Her showing last summer at the ParaPan-Ams in Toronto and the worlds in Glasgow, Scotland gave Roxon that extra little boost that she took to the starting blocks in Brazil.
“The last year and a half of training have been the best training I’ve ever done,” she said. “I was so focused. Going into these Games, I actually wasn’t nervous.”
Even as she lined up for the 100m breaststroke final — in her specialty race, Roxon was the top seed in the final — the butterflies weren’t quivering like normal.
“I wasn’t nervous, I wasn’t excited, I was just calm,” she said. “I felt more confident going in, so I just decided to enjoy the race and have fun with it.”
Roxon wasn’t prepared to say if she was willing to make it four Paralympics in a row with the 2020 Tokyo Para Games up next.
Rather, she was preferring to soak up the moment, and definitely looking forward to getting back home today.
Hickey’s wheelchair men’s basketball team had a disappointing showing in Rio with an 11th-place finish.
The youngest player on the team at 18, Hickey will now focus on cracking the sledge hockey team roster for the 2018 Winter Paralympics in South Korea.
Andrews had 22nd and 24th place finishes in the Rio equestrian competition.
rshort@thetelegram.com

Roxon landed in St. John’s Sept. 20, an overnight pit stop on the way home to Kippens on the west coast where a big celebration awaited the Paralympic 100-metre breaststroke SB8 champion.
One of three Newfoundlanders in the Paralympics, Roxon won her medal Sept. 14, finishing in a time of one minute and 19.44 seconds which is an Americas (North and South American) record, breaking a mark she had set earlier in the day in a qualifying heat.
Not bad for a swimmer from a province that has a grand total of one regulation-sized, 50-metre pool — the Aquarena in St. John’s.

RELATED: History is her story, too

The 23-year-old Roxon has been training for the past 10-plus years in 25 metre pools.
“I was asked if I’d like to leave Newfoundland a few years ago to train, to go to better sports centres,” she said, “and I really didn’t want to do that. I love living in Newfoundland, I love how comfortable I am here, the support I get here.
“You know what? You don’t have to leave the island to achieve what you want.”
The Rio Paralympics were Roxon’s third since she burst on the scene as a 15-year-old at the Beijing Para Games. Since then, she’s competed on the 2012 London Paralympics, a couple of ParaPan-American Games and Commonwealth Games and world championships.
Last year, Roxon won six medals — including one gold — at the Para Pan-Ams in Toronto, and a bronze medal and a Canadian record at the world championship.
“The only time this summer I actually trained in a 50-metre pool was when I went to camps with Swimming Canada — two weeks in Gatineau and two weeks in Toronto,” she said.
“That was it.
“Everything else was in 25-metres and everything stayed the same. My dryland training and my normal swimming training stayed the same.”
Beaming as she answered reporters’ questions at St. John’s International Airport, it was very clear Roxon was still soaking up her gold medal moment a full seven days after her big race.
Later, at Confederation Building, it was announced the road between Stephenville and Stephenville Crossing — Route 490 — was being renamed Roxon Way.
Besides being a little older and maybe a little wiser, it was a different, more confident, Katarina Roxon who arrived in Rio three weeks ago.
Her showing last summer at the ParaPan-Ams in Toronto and the worlds in Glasgow, Scotland gave Roxon that extra little boost that she took to the starting blocks in Brazil.
“The last year and a half of training have been the best training I’ve ever done,” she said. “I was so focused. Going into these Games, I actually wasn’t nervous.”
Even as she lined up for the 100m breaststroke final — in her specialty race, Roxon was the top seed in the final — the butterflies weren’t quivering like normal.
“I wasn’t nervous, I wasn’t excited, I was just calm,” she said. “I felt more confident going in, so I just decided to enjoy the race and have fun with it.”
Roxon wasn’t prepared to say if she was willing to make it four Paralympics in a row with the 2020 Tokyo Para Games up next.
Rather, she was preferring to soak up the moment, and definitely looking forward to getting back home today.
Hickey’s wheelchair men’s basketball team had a disappointing showing in Rio with an 11th-place finish.
The youngest player on the team at 18, Hickey will now focus on cracking the sledge hockey team roster for the 2018 Winter Paralympics in South Korea.
Andrews had 22nd and 24th place finishes in the Rio equestrian competition.
rshort@thetelegram.com

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