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2021 Triathlete of the Year: Elite Women (Para triathlon)

Kamylle Frenette took fourth at the Paralympics in Tokyo

Photo by: Wagner Araujo/ World Triathlon

After being recruited to join Triathlon Canada’s Para triathlon program in 2016, just five years later Kamylle Frenette finished just off the podium at the Paralympics in Tokyo, taking fourth in the PTS5 division.

Frenette, a pharmacy student, spent much of the year before the Paralympics delivering COVID vaccines in Nova Scotia, all the while trying to maintain her training as she sought to compete in Japan.

“I’m really happy. I gave it my all and emptied the tank completely,” Frenette said after her race. “I think it is normal for high performance athletes to always want more and I’m no different. I want more, but I’m also definitely really happy with today.”

Paralympic contender Kamylle Frenette “never thought of her club foot as being a handicap”

Frenette grew up watching her father compete in triathlon races and started competing with him when she was 16.

“Growing up in Dieppe, N.B., I played a multitude of different sports and was competitive among my peers,” Frenette wrote on cbc.ca, earlier this year. “I always knew that one of my feet was smaller than the other, but my parents never once made me feel like I was different from any other athletes. Because of this, I never considered the lingering discomfort and the extra room in my right shoe a disability. I was born with a condition called Unilateral Talipes Equinovarus, more commonly known as a unilateral clubfoot. At the age of four months, I had corrective surgery which left everything below my right knee just a little smaller.”

Until she was approached by the Canadian Para triathlon team in 2016, she didn’t think she would be eligible to compete in Para triathlon events. Since joining the Para team, Frenette has finished fourth at two world championships (2018 and 2019) and taken that fourth in Tokyo last summer. Leading up to the Games she also finished second at the Americas Triathlon Para Championships Pleasant Prairie and third at the World Triathlon Para Cup A Coruna.

While Frenette topped our Triathlete of the Year standings, we wanted to make sure that we acknowledged another outstanding Para competitor – Jessica Tuomela. Along with her guide, Marianne Hogan, Tuomela enjoyed an impressive year of racing that included a fifth place finish at the Paralympics in Tokyo, a win at the Americas Triathlon Para Championships Pleasant Prairie and a third place finish at the Para Cup in A Coruna.

Jessica Tuomela and guide Maranne Hogan take fifth at Paralympics