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Four Paracanoe final spots secured at Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games

It was an exciting morning of racing as the Great Britain Paracanoe team made their Tokyo 2020 Paralympics debuts in grey, wet and overcast conditions at the Sea Forest Waterway.

With only first place finishers going straight to the final, the team secured four final spots - Emma Wiggs in the women’s KL2 and VL2, Charlotte Henshaw also in the women’s KL2, and Laura Sugar in the women’s KL3. 

The five other GB paddlers all go through to semi-finals on Friday and Saturday

Charlotte Henshaw comfortably booked her place straight into the women's KL2 final in a Paralympic record time of 52.794. 

After the race Charlotte said:  

“It's been over two years since I’ve been on an international start line and it’s a huge relief to be here and racing. That race hurt this morning, but I had a good performance and for me it was about blowing the cobwebs away after 24 months away from the international stage. I’m just immensely proud to get to the Paralympic final and to put down a good performance.

“Now I've got to rest up tomorrow and have a look at the video and the data and try to do the same again on Saturday. Overall I’m just so proud to be wearing this kit and lining up for Great Britain.” 

Emma Wiggs powered through to win the first ever Va'a heat held at the Paralympic Games in the women’s VL2 in a fast time of 58.084. Just over an hour later she was back out again booking her second final place of the day with a commanding race in the women’s KL2 in a time of 53.371. 

Speaking after her two heats Emma said:

“I’m absolutely chuffed to bits to have delivered two races that I'm really proud of today and hopefully we can build from here.

“I'm really realistic about where the kayak is, and Charlotte's a phenomenal athlete. And I just want to try and get us both on the podium, that would be an incredible achievement. So there’s no extra pressure, and I'm just genuinely really excited about the depth of talent in our team and, this is our time now to shine on the world stage.”

Laura Sugar put in an impressive race on her Paracanoe Paralympic debut in the women's KL3 heat, finishing first in a new Paralympic best time of 50.347. 

Laura said: “That was hard in that headwind, but the British weather made me feel really at home! I was nervous at the start but I’m really happy to get it done and dusted. It felt really good.  I am relieved that the heats are done and I am looking forward to the final.”


Through to Semi finals

Competing at her seventh Paralympic Games, Jeanette Chippington, the reigning Paralympic Champion in the women’s KL1 finished fifth in her KL1 heat in a time of 1:02.826. She also raced in the new Va’a women’s VL2 event, securing a second place finish with a time of 1:03.854. 

“The Va’a went really well,” she reflected after the race. “I was pleased with that, but the kayak felt quite hard. I think we all got a bit cold out there and having both races might have affected it a bit. I’ll need to go a lot faster than that in the semi finals. The medals are looking incredible and it would be the icing on the cake to come away with one.”

Commenting on the Games Jeanette said: “It’s a real privilege to be here. I didn't know what the atmosphere would be like, but it's been absolutely incredible. I just feel really honoured to be here.  I don't give myself enough praise but I think I should give myself a big pat on the back for  making my seventh Games!” 

The men’s KL2 saw former wheelchair tennis ace, Dave Phillipson power through to the semi finals, finishing second in his heat in a time of 44.295.

Dave commented: “The performance overall was good and the conditions were very similar to being at home. Hopefully I can come top three tomorrow and make the final and bring home a medal.”

Also finishing in second place, in a thrilling race with World Champion Curtis McGrath, was Paralympic debutant Stuart Wood who booked a place in the men’s VL3 semi final in a time 52.579. 

He said: “It would have been nice to go straight to the final, but it was a decent run. I was happy with the race and hopefully I will feel a bit more relaxed in the next race now I’m a Paralympian!”

Rob Oliver came out fast in the men’s KL3 but was pipped to third place in a time of 41.820 in the men's KL3 heat. 

Speaking after the race Rob said: “I felt good and confident and this is the best I’ve felt in ages. 

"That’s another race done,  another one in the bank, but tomorrow will be the real test and I’ll see what I’ve got in the tank. It's great British weather here, just like being at home, and I’m excited for tomorrow!” 

First out on the water was Rio 2016 bronze medallist Ian Marsden who finished fourth in the men’s KL1 heat in a time of 55.601, after capsizing minutes before the start. 

Ian said: “It was a bit of a disaster, that one. I had a nightmare before the start, tipping the boat over as the safety boat went past! I was worried I would miss the race, but now it’s done and out of the way I can look ahead to the next race and put this behind me.”


How to watch and follow the action

British Canoeing will be covering the paracanoe events via our Paddle to Tokyo website, social media and a live blog for a round up of the Tokyo action each day.

Live coverage of the Games will be available across the Channel 4 broadcast channels and streaming via their website.

The competition schedule and full results service is available on the Tokyo 2020 Games website

New to paddling?

If you have been inspired by watching paracanoe at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, check out Paddle, Perform, Podium, our initiative looking for individuals to join the Paracanoe Talent Pathway, with the aim of competing at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games and beyond.


Results

Men's KL1 Heats
Ian Marsden 4th 55.601 Semi Final

Women's VL2 Heats
Emma Wiggs 1st 58.084 (PB) A Final
Jeanette Chippington 2nd 63.854 Semi Final

Men's KL2 Heats
Dave Phillipson 2nd 44.295 Semi Final

Men's KL3 Heats
Rob Oliver 3rd 41.820 Semi Final

Women's KL1 Heats
Jeanette Chippington 5th 62.826 Semi Final

Women's KL2 Heats
Charlotte Henshaw 1st 52.794 (PB) A Final
Emma Wiggs 1st 53.371 A Final

Women's KL3 Heats
Laura Sugar 1st 50.347 (PB) A Final

Men's VL3 Heats
Stuart Wood 2nd 52.579 Semi Final