High hopes for 2021 for Mansfield paralympic athlete

2020 has been a strange year for everyone, and especially so for paralympic athlete Charlotte Henshaw.

Tuesday, 29th December 2020, 7:00 am

Charlotte has been one of Mansfield’s most successful athletes for many years, and shocked the town when she retired from a successful swimming career in 2017.

Later that year she entered the paracanoe world and quickly rose up the ranks.

Charlotte was hoping to represent Team GB in her first Paralympics for kayak this year, until the coronavirus pandemic forced the games to be postponed to next year – however the athlete is taking this as a positive.

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Charlotte Henshaw retired from a successful swimming career to become a para canoeist in 2017.

The 33-year-old explains: “It was a bit scary changing sport, especially with going from being one of the best to having to learn the discipline from scratch.

"We were six weeks away from the selection regatta when we went into lockdown, so everything was up in the air, but I’m seeing it as a positive – I’m fairly new to the sport so, really, this gives me an extra year to improve.

Charlotte says the news breaking a few days later that the games would be postponed was ‘the right thing to do’ and athletes were relieved.

"Athletes wanted to know sooner rather than later – training was putting athletes and their teams at risk,” she continued.

Charlotte recuperating in hospital after surgery - entertaining the nurses with her choice of pyjamas.

"Everyone needed time to come to terms with what was happening, so it was definitely the right thing to do to make the decision early.

"It’s given me time to unpick things both mentally and physically.”

The athlete has used her time at home wisely, honing her training regime, and says she has learned things about herself that she will be taking forward into 2021.

Diagnosed with endometriosis earlier this month, she is currently recuperating from surgery and looking to get back into training in late January.

She hopes to be selected for Team GB to compete in Tokyo in August, which will be a huge achievement.

Charlotte explains: “It’s crazy to think I was competing at Rio in 2016 for swimming, and will potentially be competing in 2021 in a completely different sport.

"Competition is tough – I have defending paralympic champion Emma Wiggs in my event, so I have a lot of work to do.

“I just need to continue with my rehabilitation and crack on with training in the new year.”

A message from the editor:

As 2020 draws to a close, we would like to thank those of you who help us continue our work by buying a newspaper or taking out a subscription.

Local journalism has been more important than ever this year, so thank you for helping us to be your voice.

Nancy Fielder, editor.