Nervous wait for Paralympics star Charlotte Henshaw despite world titles nine and 10

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Despite winning her ninth and 10th world titles, Mansfield's Charlotte Henshaw still faces a nervous few weeks wait before she learns if she will be heading for her fifth Paralympics in a row in Paris later this year.

Paracanoeist Henshaw is hoping to compete in both the KL2 kayak and VL3 Va'a boat events and, despite her huge success in Hungary this month, still has to tackle a qualifying event at Nottingham's Holme Pierrepont National Water Sports Centre next month.

Henshaw won her 10th world title as she claimed gold in the women's KL2 at the ICF Paracanoe World Championships in Szeged.

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She had already won the VL3 world title with a time of 48.79 seconds.

Gold medalist Charlotte Henshaw celebrates on the podium in Hungary.Gold medalist Charlotte Henshaw celebrates on the podium in Hungary.
Gold medalist Charlotte Henshaw celebrates on the podium in Hungary.

“We have our Paris selection event the second weekend in June at Holme Pierrepont which ae the races to make that Paralympic team and I am hoping to race in both KL2 and VL3 at the Games if that goes well at the beginning of September,” she said.

“I am hopeful that I will get the nod for the team. That means we can take all of that question mark away and focus on the job at hand, which is to peak at the right time on that second weekend in September.

“I am feeling confident and hopeful, but you never like to assume until it's written down in ink and you absolutely know you are going.

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“In sport anything can happen at any time, so the first job is to get selection rubber-stamped and then it's full speed ahead to the end of the summer.

“It would be my fifth Paralympics, which is something I could never have imagined if you'd told me that when I was 10 years old and met a Paralympics gold medalist and decided that was what I wanted to be.

“It's been a complete whirlwind and beyond a dream really.”

On her double Hungary gold, she said: “It was a tricky few days of racing.

“It wasn't our main focus of the year but it's always nice to compete against the rest of the world and get my ninth and 10th world titles. It was a really special couple of days.

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“It is always nice to get the wins but the Va'a in particular was a very tight race. I think I beat my team mate Hope Gordon by an 11th of a second. So you can never take anything for granted.

“But it was nice to see where I am and where the team is against the rest of the world.

“We have been the world's leading paracanoe nation for 12 years running now and we want to continue that form at the Games. So it's nice to see where we are and carry the confidence through to the Paralympics.”

She added: “I do some of my training in Nottingham but spend two of my training days in and around Mansfield and I am very appreciative of the support the local leisure facilities give me as that is a huge part of my training.”

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The 37-year-old switched to paracanoe in 2017 after previously competing as a para-swimmer.

She represented Great Britain in the 2010, 2013 and 2015 IPC World Championships and the 2008 Beijing, 2012 London and 2016 Rio Paralympics, winning a silver medal at the London games, followed by a bronze in Rio.

She changed to canoeing in 2017, becoming the reigning World champion in the KL2 (five-time) and VL3 (three-time) 200m events.

In September 2021, at the delayed 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo, she became a Paralympic champion at her fourth games, winning the Women's KL2 event.

Charlotte was recruited to the British Paracanoe team in June 2021, specialising in the KL2 Kayak, and VL3 Va'a events.