Great Britain's paracanoe team delivered its best ever Paralympic Games performance by adding two golds, a silver and a bronze medal to the gold and two bronze medals won yesterday, finishing top of the medal table with seven medals overall.
God Save the Queen rang out for both Laura Sugar and Charlotte Henshaw, at the Sea Forest Waterway as the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games paracanoe competition concluded in style.
The women’s KL2 race was a thrilling watch as Great Britain stormed home with a gold and silver medal. Charlotte Henshaw clocked up a Paralympic Best time of 50.760 to take gold, with Emma Wiggs just behind her picking up silver in a time of 51.409.
Former Paralympic swimmer, Charlotte Henshaw, three times Paracanoe World Champion can now add Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Champion to her list of honours.
Speaking after the medal ceremony, Charlotte said: “I was hurting so much but it was a fantastic race and it's incredible that Emma and I have taken the top two places on the podium. It shows the strength we have in the British Canoeing squad and I'm very proud to be a part of it.
“I never thought Paris was on the radar for me but the one beautiful thing that’s come out of having a five year cycle and now a three year cycle is that Paris seems a lot more achievable for people and it’s become a real focus for athletes, myself included.
“Overall, It's amazing and I feel a real sense of gratitude that I got the opportunity to race for this medal. Thanks to Japan for putting on an incredible Paralympic Games in such difficult circumstances and allowing us to showcase the hard work we’ve put in over the last five years.
"I'm so thankful that I had the opportunity to race and the fact that I managed to get the job done was the icing on the cake. I'll be celebrating with some pizza and ice cream later!
Emma Wiggs, who made history yesterday as the first Brit to become a double paracanoe champion, has added a women’s KL2 silver medal to the Women’s VL2 gold from the Tokyo Games and KL2 gold from Rio 2016.
Speaking after collecting her third Paralympic medal, fighting back tears, Emma said: “I’m exhausted, It’s been a crazy 24 hours! “
Reflecting on the race, she added: “I know Charlotte is a fantastic athlete and was going to be ahead so I just wanted to be as close as I could and be ahead of the rest of the world.
"We wanted to show the world what we’ve got and I feel like we did that today. We put on the best performances we could and have come away with a gold and silver medal today.
"I'm chuffed to bits for Charlotte and absolutely blown away to be next to her on the podium. She's helped me become a better athlete and been a huge part of the squad these past five years. I'm just proud that as a ParalympicsGB team we’ve made disability impossible to ignore. I love this sport and will go on as long as the boats go faster.”
In the women’s KL3 final, Laura Sugar firmly landed on the World Paracanoe stage by romping to a sweet victory, picking up gold in another Paralympic Best time of 49.582. The new Women’s KL3 Paralympic Champion said:
“It’s a bit of a blur. I needed to nail my start and am really happy that it paid off and glad it went to plan and I won the gold medal! I always enjoyed recreational kayaking and when canoeing approached me I liked the idea of racing and going as hard as you can.
"I didn’t expect to pick it up so quickly but I just love it! I'm still quite new to the sport so have spent the extra year honing my technique. It was a good opportunity to go back to basics and that put me in good stead to go faster here today.“
In what was an epic end to the competition. Stuart Wood won bronze in the Men’s VL3 on his Paralympic debut having led for much of the race, in a tight finish, in a time of 52.760.
Commenting after the race, Stuart said: “I was so sure that I'd lost it at the end. I was so nervous and then was so unbelievably relieved when it came up on the screen that I’d won the bronze medal.
“It was such a tight one. I usually try to get out fast and then desperately hold on and the headwind today made it harder to hold on at the end.
“It feels so incredible. With the games being delayed by a year it’s been such a long run in and a long journey so it feels really great to come away with a medal in my first Games.”
Earlier in the morning, after a cracking bronze medal win in the Women’s VL2 yesterday, reigning women’s KL1 Paralympic Champion Jeanette Chippington just missed out on a place in the KL1 final.
It wasn't to be for the seven-time paralympian as she faced a tough field in the semi final, with a strong headwind and finished in fourth place in a time of 1:01.762.
The former Paralympic swimmer has come home with a medal from each of the seven Games she’s competed in.
“It’s a huge achievement because I’ve fought so hard for every one of my medals. Yesterday was no exception and to win the bronze medal was just amazing.” Jeanette said, adding: “Obviously, today I’m disappointed to not make the final, but we were focusing on the Va’a as we thought that would be where the medal potential was, and I’m still on such a high from that.
“You try to refocus and readjust, but I knew this event today was going to be tough and the headwind was a little bit tricky. Overall, I put everything I could into this race but now, I can celebrate and enjoy the medal. The experience here has been incredible and the Japanese people are so lovely. I am going home with memories that I will cherish forever.”
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Women's KL1 Semi Finals
Jeanette Chippington - 4th 61.762
Men's VL3 Semi Finals
Stuart Wood - 1st 50.004 (PB)
Women's KL2 A Final
Charlotte Henshaw - 1st 50.760 (PB) GOLD
Emma Wiggs - 2nd 51.409 SILVER
Women's KL3 A Final
Laura Sugar - 1st 49.582 (PB) GOLD
Men's VL3 A Final
Stuart Wood - 3rd 52.760 BRONZE