Great Britain's paracanoe team delivered its best ever Paralympic performance at the Tokyo 2020 Games with three golds, a silver and three bronze medals, finishing on top of the paracanoe medal table with seven medals overall.
In three incredible and emotional days of racing at the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo the team created some incredible moments on and off the water.
Emma Wiggs becomes the most decorated Paralympic female paracanoe athlete
It was a history-making Games for Emma Wiggs, who became the first ever Paralympic Champion in the new women’s Va’a VL2 event in a Paralympic Best time of 57.028 and Great Britain’s first canoeing double Paralympic Champion.
The following day Emma was back in action to defend her women’s KL2 Paralympic title from Rio 2016. In another brilliant performance Emma claimed the silver medal, less than a second behind Charlotte Henshaw in a time of 51.409 to win her third Paralympic medal.
Coached by Matt Lawrence, Emma was cheered on by a huge group of family and friends who have supported her every step of the way.
Emma transferred to paracanoe for the Rio cycle after competing in sitting volleyball at the London 2012 Games.
In two Paralympic Games, Emma has become the most decorated female paracanoe athlete with three medals and is the only female athlete to be a Paralympic Champion in the kayak and va’a events.
Super Saturday for Charlotte Henshaw and Laura Sugar
The women’s KL2 was a thrilling race as Charlotte Henshaw clocked up a Paralympic Best time of 50.760 to take the gold medal, with team mate Emma Wiggs picking up silver to make it a GB 1-2.
Charlotte, who has Paralympic silver and bronze medals in swimming pool from the last two Games, completed the medal set in style with her first gold thanks to a sensational performance.
Since swapping the swimming pool for the regatta lake at the National Water Sport Centre in Nottingham, Charlotte can now add the title of women’s KL2 Paralympic Champion to her three world titles
Laura Sugar firmly landed on the world paracanoe stage by dominating the women’s KL3 final to claim the gold medal in another Paralympic Best time for the British team of 49.582.
After competing in athletics in Rio 2016, Laura has made an incredible transition from occasional recreational kayaker to Paralympic Champion.
Charlotte and Laura are both coached by Colin Radmore, who in an article in the Times explained how the programme has benefitted from talented athletes transferring to paracanoe from other sports.
Legendary status secured for Jeanette Chippington
Jeanette Chippington further cemented her Paralympic legend status with a bronze medal in the new women’s VL2 event, alongside Emma Wiggs who claimed gold.
It was Jeanette’s 14th Paralympic medal and her second medal in paracanoe, after winning gold in the women’s KL1 at the Rio 2106 Games.
Bronze also ensured that Jeanette had medalled in her seventh consecutive Games, having first competed as a swimmer at Seoul 1988.
Coached by John Griffiths, Jeanette’s bronze was ParalympicsGB's 100th medal of the Tokyo 2020 Games and she was Paralympic GB’s oldest medallist at 51-years-old.
Emotional bronze medals for Rob Oliver and Stuart Wood
Rob Oliver won a superb bronze medal, made all the more emotional as he was the only member of the team not to make it on to the podium in Rio, where he just missed out in the men’s KL3.
It’s been far from a smooth ride for Rob. He contracted Covid five weeks ago delaying his flight out to Japan. And despite his numerous set-backs, he put himself in contention for medals in a thrilling men's KL3 final.
In an incredibly tight finish, Rob claimed a brilliant bronze and his first Paralympic medal in a time of 41.268, with just .012 of a second separating third and fourth.
Coached by Colin Radmore, Rob’s story was picked up by the media, including a feature in the Daily Mail.
The seventh medal for the paracanoe team was won in the new men’s VL3 event by debutant Stuart Wood roared on by his family at home in a specially decorated ‘Paralympic Den’.
After claiming a Paralympic Best time in the semi-finals, the final race was a nail-biter with Stuart winning an incredible bronze as he crossed the line in a tight finish, in a time of 52.760.
It was a terrific debut for the Va’a and Stuart Wood, also coached by Colin Radmore.
A finals secured for Ian Marsden and Dave Phillipson
After transferring from wheelchair tennis, Dave Phillipson was competing in his first Games for paracanoe. After strong performances in the heat and semi-finals Dave battled hard in the men’s KL2 final, where he finished seventh in a time of 43.348.
Speaking after the final Dave said: “I've put my heart and soul into this over the last five years, moving from tennis after three games without a medal, I saw my chance in Paracanoe and I gave it my all out there.”
In the men's KL1, Rio 2016 bronze medallist Ian Marsden threw everything into the race and finished eighth in a time of 52.848.
Afterward he reflected: “It’s been good to get out there and pick up more experience and Paris really isn’t that far away. Thanks so much to everyone at home for supporting me and staying up all hours.”
Ian and Dave are coached by Matt Lawrence and both athletes have had Paralympic Games campaigns that they can be proud of.
Reflecting on a successful campaign Head Coach Scott Simon said:
“What a competition!
“To come away with seven medals, I knew it was possible but to get it done was everything we’ve dreamed about.
“It’s amazing what the athletes have done, but it’s not without the support of everybody back home pushing us and the Tokyo team of staff that were out there as well.
A shout out to our technical coaches Colin Radmore, Matt Lawrence, and John Griffiths, who have worked hard to support athletes chase their goals.
“It couldn’t have been done without the team of Jonathan Smith, Charlotte Wade, Matthew Thompson and Steve Train putting it all together for us.
“I’m so proud of the team, not just how we’ve done it, but in the way in which we’ve done it as well.”
Paracanoe Talent Pathway - Paddle, Perform, Podium
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.