Charlotte Henshaw believes this summer’s Paralympic Games will be more significant than ever before, as she took a step closer to Tokyo with a dominant performance at the sprint and paracanoe national selection event.
The Mansfield paddler put herself firmly in contention for a seat on the plane by claiming three victories in the women’s KL2 200m in Nottingham, ahead of reigning Rio 2016 champion Emma Wiggs.
While Henshaw must wait until June for the official announcement of the GB squad a course record of 48.43s in the first round of her first regatta in 18 months aided her chances of earning selection for a fourth Paralympics.
And though the former swimmer already counts Paralympic bronze and silver medals among her list of achievements, she insists competing at this summer’s rescheduled Games would be extra special.
“I think with everything that’s gone on and it having been such a hard five-year cycle, it would mean more this time,” she said.
“It’s been such a long process to get to this point that I think everyone’s looking at it as meaning something extra.
“For me, I think the fact it would be a second sport adds to that as well. If you’d have said to me five years ago at the closing ceremony in Rio that I’d very seriously have a shot of going to a fourth Paralympics in a second sport I perhaps wouldn’t have believed you.
“I’m really happy with my performance today. It’s been a long time since we’ve been out there on the start line and the nerves were there for sure, but I had three really good runs and it’s something to build on.”
After switching from swimming to paracanoeing after the Rio Games Henshaw has taken the sport by storm, notching three world titles and emerging as one of Great Britain’s biggest hopes for gold in Japan.
And though her preparation for the summer has been somewhat disrupted she believes the capacity to train alongside global stars such as Wiggs stands her and the rest of the GB squad in good stead for success on the biggest stage.
She added: “I had surgery in December and had to do a lot of rehab over the Christmas period, which wasn’t ideal. But I’m back in training properly now and we’ve got one event under our belts, so hopefully we can keep building now.
“We’re very fortunate that we get to train with the best in the world every single day. Emma and I push each other to be the best we can be, and it’s exciting to know that when we go to a major championships we’re going to give the rest of the world a good show.”
British Canoeing is the national governing body for paddlesport in the UK