Dramatic year finishing on a high note for Jessica-Jane Applegate
Another eventful year in the life of Norfolk swimming star Jessica-Jane Applegate is finishing on a high, as the Paralympian sets her sights on recovering full fitness.
The 20-year-old won three medals at the Rio Paralympics in September and was named Female Sportsperson of the Year at the Norfolk Sports Awards earlier this week.
The UEA City of Norwich Swimming Club member had to battle for her success though, due to an operation just two months ahead of the Paralympics to fix a laryngeal problem which was causing her breathing problems in the pool.
Ahead of accepting her award at Open in Norwich on Tuesday evening, Applegate also revealed that when she returned from Brazil she was diagnosed with a prolapsed disc in her back.
However the former Ormiston Venture Academy pupil, who won S14 200m freestyle gold at London 2012, has not been named in the 13-strong British Para-swimming Podium squad for 2016-17. Instead she has been moved down to the Podium Potential squad of 18 swimmers, but Applegate is in good spirits as she looks to get back to her best.
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'The main thing for me is to get recovered from all my injuries and surgery, training hard will be my next thing to go to after recovery,' Applegate said.
'I have a competition in December which I'm hoping to do fairly all-right at but that's not anything important, that's mainly a GB recognition competition, to prove to yourself where you are. I'll be training all winter through to next summer, when I'll have my trials, and I'm not sure what's really happening with those at the moment because everything's been delayed by Rio.
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'The World Championships will be in Mexico in October so that would be really nice, as we don't really get to go to many exotic places.'
The Bergh Castle-based swimmer has Asperger syndrome, a form of autism, and competes in classes for swimmers with intellectual impairments.
In Rio she won silver in the S14 200m freestyle and struggled to hold back the tears after seeing GB team-mate Bethany Firth take her Paralympic title, despite swimming over five seconds faster than in London. However, silver in the SM14 200m individual medley and bronze in the S14 100m backstroke still contributed to a memorable time in South America.
'I kind of take the positives out of it but the race itself was just so painful for me and pushing through those pain barriers was extremely difficult considering everything and I think that's why everything came out and I was an emotional wreck!' she continued. 'I was happy with what I'd achieved but no-one ever wants to go to the Paralympic Games and win a silver medal – and anyone who says they are happy to win silver, they know deep down that they really wanted that gold.'
Applegate also thanked her coach, Alex Pinniger, who was nominated for High Performance Coach of the Year, adding: 'I can't be grateful enough for what Alex has given me. I can ring him up at any time of the day and he'll help no matter what it is.
'Whether I'm just having trouble motivating myself or just being on the end of the phone, or when I'm crying after my race!'