Team GB’s Charlotte Henshaw added a gold medal to her silver and bronze won in London and Rio respectively with her kayak triumph in Tokyo
World canoeing champion Charlotte Henshaw remarkably completed a full set of Paralympic medals by winning kayak gold in Tokyo.
The 34-year-old former swimmer defeated defending champion Emma Wiggs to add a KL2 kayak gold to her SB6 breaststroke silver and bronze, won in London and Rio respectively.
Henshaw has been in brilliant form since switching sports in 2017 from swimming and set a new personal best of 50.760 for the 200m straight line.
Team GB team-mate Wiggs was just 0.649s behind Henshaw, but the gold medal remains in British hands.
“I didn’t switch sports to win a gold medal but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to complete the set,” Henshaw said. “It’s lovely with a bronze and a silver but it looks much better with one of each colour.
“You always dream about it, you have to otherwise you wouldn’t put yourself through this. It was a cracking race and Emma is such a fearsome competitor, she’s won everything.
“She never gives in.”
Henshaw, who had both legs amputated above the knee aged 18 months after she was born with bilateral tibial hypoplasis, quit swimming after falling out of love with training.
The Mansfield-born star had never sat in a kayak five years ago but she quickly developed a passion and a talent for paracanoe and she tried to prolong her career.
Nine months ago, Henshaw underwent surgery for endometriosis – a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other body areas, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Despite this, Henshaw didn’t want her sporting career to end prematurely.
“I knew I wasn’t done being an athlete – I knew that I had untapped ability,” she added.
“I tried a few sports but canoeing was the one I loved right from the get-go. I got in a boat in January 2017 and I’ve never looked back. It was clearly the right move.
“I was in hospital just before Christmas, so I missed a good chunk of training over the winter.
“It was tough to say I’d have the surgery in a Games year, but it was what I needed to do for my health.”
Henshaw’s team-mate Laura Sugar also claimed gold on Saturday, winning the women’s KL3 competition.
The 30-year-old was born with talipes – or club foot – had finished fifth in both the T44 100m and 200m athletics finals at Rio 2016.
However, Sugar had her crowning moment on the water in Tokyo, triumphing with a personal best of 49.582s – 1.976s clear of France’s Nelia Barbosa while Germany’s Felicia Laberer rounded out the podium.
Elsewhere, Stuart Wood made it a debut Games to remember by sealing a VL3 bronze medal in the men’s event by finishing his event in 52.760.