Henshaw relishing being an ‘unknown’ with Euros silver

Charlotte Henshaw pictured with her Paralympic silver and bronze medals from London 2012 and Rio 2016 before making the switch from swimming to canoeing
Charlotte Henshaw pictured with her Paralympic silver and bronze medals from London 2012 and Rio 2016 before making the switch from swimming to canoeing

Swimmer turned canoeist Charlotte Henshaw is relishing being an ‘unknown’ in the world of paracanoeing.

The Mansfield star battled her way to a silver medal at the European Para Canoe Championships in Bulgaria - in her first international appearance on top of the water.

She came second in the women’s KL2 200m final in Plovdiv last week, finishing 2.8 seconds behind British team-mate, training partner and overall winner Emma Wiggs.

Henshaw, a Paralympic silver and bronze medallist in the pool who retired from swimming to take up canoeing in May, was pleased with her debut performance.

The 30-year-old said: “In this year, it was always going to be a massive bonus to go away and compete. I’m still very new to the sport and I looked upon this year as a learning year in training.

“Then I realised I was making quite quick improvements and there was the possibility to go and race. It was lovely to get the opportunity to race internationally again.

“I wanted to make the most of the fact that I had no pressure on me and that I was the unknown. Still a lamb in relative terms so to experience that was quite refreshing.

“It was a massive bonus to go but to come away with a medal was another thing I hadn’t expected. It was a good achievement to get there and to get a medal was a bonus.”

Wiggs, a three-time world champion, was delighted with the GB one-two, like Henshaw, and praised the Mansfield sports star for “smashing it”.

Henshaw has settled into her new sport and said Wiggs and the GB Paracanoe team have played a big part in that.

“Emma has been a great help,” said Henshaw. “She’s Paralympic champion, world champion, now European champion.

“She’s got a wealth of experience in paracanoe and while I’m experienced in swimming there’s been a big learning curve for me in starting to learn the sport.

“To have someone like Emma and also Nicola Paterson, who wasn’t at the Europeans but is a world silver medallist, who is also in my class. Training with them all the time pushes me to be better because I’m racing and training with the two best paddlers in the world.

“To be the best you’ve got to beat the best so to be around them in training and learn from them has been a real help to me. It was lovely for us both to win medals and keep the medal tally where it has always been in that category, which is nice too.”