Henshaw set for world stage

Margaret Clarke and Paralympian swimmer Charlotte Henshaw in the new hydrotherpy pool which bears Margaret's name, who worked at the Alfreton Park Community Special School as a swimming instructor for 31 years before her retirement and initiated the fundraising for the new facility.
Margaret Clarke and Paralympian swimmer Charlotte Henshaw in the new hydrotherpy pool which bears Margaret's name, who worked at the Alfreton Park Community Special School as a swimming instructor for 31 years before her retirement and initiated the fundraising for the new facility.

Fresh from making her international bow at the European Championships, Charlotte Henshaw is gearing up to compete on the global stage once more.

This time, rather than under the water, the swimmer turned canoeist will test herself against the sport’s best at the 2017 ICF World Championships.

The Mansfield sports star, 30, has been back in training for the competition; set to take place between August 23rd and 27th in the Czech Republic.

Henshaw, a Paralympic silver and bronze medallist in the pool, finished second in the women’s KL2 200m Euros final behind Great Britain team-mate Emma Wiggs.

And now she is ready for the next challenge.

“It was something completely unexpected,” she said. “I’m racing in a different kind of boat. There’s the kayak and the va’a, I’m in the va’a race this time.

“They’re hoping to get the va’a into the Paralympics. It wasn’t in Rio so they’re hoping that will be in Tokyo. The mindset is to get people racing it now.

“It’s a learning year for me so to get that experience in a different kind of boat will help me with my boat skills. I’m there to race and try to win some medals but it’s a completely new skill, new boat and new technical things to work on.

“It’ll be another week where there will be a lot of information to take on board and that’s the best way to learn; to be immersed in it completely and I’ll have to learn as I go through it.

“I’ll try to put in a decent performance and I can use it as a platform for next year to push on.” And added: “It’s all good experience. Four years is a long old time and I’ve got to continue to learn to get through to Tokyo and I think I’ve made a good start to that.”

Henshaw is quickly settling in to the world of paracanoe and said the welcome received from Wiggs and the rest of the GB team has made the transition that bit easier.

“One of the reasons I was drawn to canoeing was because they are such a tight-knit team, extremely supportive, very cohesive group that works as one big unit,” said Henshaw.

“It’s very daunting to be the new person and it’s been a while since that was me, so it was lovely to step into a group of athletes who were so welcoming.

“It makes training every day a much more enjoyable experience when you know you’ve got a supportive group has got your back. That’s what I like about sport. It gives you that camaraderie that Glenn, myself and Ollie had.”

And, while the sport has changed, Henshaw still has that competitive streak.

“I’ve had that mindset of racing for so long. When you put a competitor in a competitive situation that brings out that side to them.

“A lot of people have said since I’ve moved across that they can tell I’m a natural racer and that comes from my history in swimming.

“The mindset of gritting your teeth and driving to the end of the lane is the same across the board. I think if you’ve got that natural competitive spirit it will come out,” she added.