“I never expected to be going to the World Championships this year and it is very much a bonus.”
Paralympic medallist Charlotte Henshaw is still new to Para canoe. But with that comes less pressure ahead of the International Canoe Federation (ICF) Para Canoe World Championships from 23-26 August in Racice, Czech Republic.
Henshaw announced her switch from swimming earlier this year and showed her talent at the Para canoe European Championships in July, when she claimed a silver medal on her international canoeing debut in the 200m KL2; compatriot and Paralympic champion Emma Wiggs finished ahead of Henshaw.
“I never expected to be going to the World Championships this year and it is very much a bonus,” said Henshaw, who wrapped up her swimming career with bronze in the women’s 100m breaststroke SB6 from Rio 2016.
“It’s another opportunity for me to learn and observe whilst I’m there and just see what a World Championship is like and again, make the most of not having too much pressure on myself because I’m sure that comes with success.
“I’m looking forward to going out there and racing a different boat because I raced a kayak at the Europeans and I’m racing the Va’a at the World Championships. That will be another learning experience for me. I’m taking it all in this year but it’s good to get that all in now.”
Her silver medal from the European Championships came as a surprise because she had not been paddling for so long and is still learning the sport.
But maybe that was key.
“It was nice to go out to a competition and not have any pressure on myself, because it’s been a long time since I had that,” Henshaw said. “I think that made it more of a surprise because it’s not what I had anticipated at all this year.”
Having been a swimmer since she was young, Henshaw – who also owns a silver medal from London 2012 – was somewhat hesitant about the switch. However Para canoe has given the 30-year-old a new enthusiasm for training and credits the support staff and fellow athletes in making the switch easy.
“I was a bit apprehensive because obviously it was a big life change for me. It worked really well and I was already local so it wasn’t a big upheaval in terms of life in general, but I’d been swimming for Great Britain for nearly 10 years and swimming had been my life from being four,” she said.
“The opportunity to come here came at the right time and it kind of gave me a new enthusiasm for training which is obviously really important when you’re doing it six days a week.”