Player's Own Voice

Player's Own Voice podcast: Para athlete Jessica Tuomela coping with COVID challenges

The Player's Own Voice podcast meets Jessica Tuomela — winner of the Tokyo para triathlon trial event as her rough and tumble sport deals with physical distancing.

Blind competitor's sport of para triathlon facing existential questions

Jessica Tuomela, Canadian para triathlete, is seen competing the swim portion of a world event in Lausanne, Switzerland in 2019. (@ Wagner Araujo / ITU Media)

Jessica Tuomela is an extremely competitive para Triathlete. She was a world leader in swimming before adding the bike and run to her game. Tuomela won the Tokyo paralympic triathlon test event. And while all athletes are bumping up against pandemic-related challenges, the completely blind competitor's sport is facing existential questions.

Para triathlon brings guides and athletes into extreme close contact. Whether swimming, biking or running, it's one big scrum of bumping, breathing and sweating all over one another. Not safe. An answer might be in turning the events into time trials, but losing the mass start and sight or sound or any other sense of close competition? That would be a head- spinning change for most para triathletes.

And while the Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., native ponders the possibilities, she still has to keep honing the extreme competitive fitness that got her to the top of the sport last year. How to do that, when elite guides and training partners can barely travel?

Tuomela  jokes about it, but her intensely independent streak (did someone say incredible stubbornness?) is serving her well at this moment.

She joins Anastasia Bucsis on Player's Own Voice podcast today.

Tuomela has recently written about her unique experience for CBC Sports,  Like the written series, POV podcast lets athletes speak to Canadians about issues from a personal perspective. To listen to all three seasons, subscribe for free on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Tune In or wherever you get your other podcasts.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.