CHARLOTTE Henshaw, pictured, has vowed to show her world rivals her Paralympic credentials sooner rather than later – after admitting opportunities to do so are fast running out.
With the London Games 500 days away on 17th April, this July’s European Championships present Henshaw, from Mansfield, with a last major international chance to stake her 2012 claim.
The 24-year-old has already gone some way to doing that, having banished the memory of her fourth-place finish in the 100m breaststroke at the Beijing Games in 2008 by winning the European title a year later.
However, having had to settle for world silver last year, ahead of Paralympic champion and fellow Brit Liz Johnson but behind Mallory Weggemann, Henshaw has a point to prove pre-2012.
“I’d love to have a really good Europeans ahead of London and hopefully try and send a bit of a message for them,” said Henshaw.
“Last time at the Europeans as a team we had an absolutely amazing event and got, I think, in the region of 96 medals, which was a massive tally of medals.
“We are not going to get much of a chance to race guys from outside Europe much this year and obviously with London next year we want to make our mark.
“We knew that it was going to be our big focus, but you try and not get too caught up in it all because it can be a bit daunting.
“It’s always in the back of your mind and you have to keep it there, obviously, because our big focus at the moment is the Europeans.
“After that I think it will be a lot more prominent, the Europeans are in July and then we have a year for that big final push.”
Henshaw could yet face American Weggemann at the Paralympic World in Manchester in May after being chosen as part of the British team to swim the 100m breaststroke.
The Mansfield flyer was in action in Manchester at the start of the month, finishing fourth in the multi-classification 100m breaststroke at the British Championships.
Henshaw will definitely line up alongside British rival Johnson at the Paralympic World Cup and, with Weggemann potentially also there, she believes it will be one of the fiercest races on show.
“I think some teams from further afield will come to the Paralympic World Cup and that will be a great opportunity to make our mark,” she added. “And that is an opportunity we can use to move ahead for next year.
“I would love to win gold in London and I know both Liz and I are up there in the top three in the world. I’d love to win it but who knows what’s going to happen.”