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ParalympicsGB roundup: Henshaw and Sugar strike gold after switches pay off

Paralympics GB enjoyed a dominant final day at the Sea Forest Waterway as they took two of the five gold medals available, as well as a silver and bronze, in the paracanoeing events.

Charlotte Henshaw switched to paracanoe after winning bronze and silver medals as a swimmer at the London and Rio Games and it paid dividends when she won her first gold medal in the women’s kayak single 200m KL2. The 34-year-old beat her British compatriot and defending champion, Emma Wiggs. Wiggs finished 0.649sec behind Henshaw, having won gold in the women’s Va’a singles 200m on Friday. Hungary’s Katalin Varga claimed bronze.

“It’s amazing. I feel a real sense of gratitude that I got the opportunity that I was able to race for this medal,” Henshaw said.

“The first and biggest thanks needs to go to Japan for putting on an incredible Games in such difficult circumstances and allowing us to showcase our hard work from over the last five years.”

There was a second British gold and first medal for Laura Sugar, who won the women’s kayak single KL3 200m. As a track athlete she finished fifth in the women’s T44 200m final in Rio, but she switched to paracanoe in 2018. The 30-year-old finished nearly two seconds ahead of France’s Nélia Barbosa.

There was a bronze medal for Stuart Wood in the men’s Va’a VL3 final, in a race won by Australia’s double-gold medallist Curtis McGrath.

The British canoeists won seven medals in total, including three golds, making them the most successful paracanoe team in Tokyo.

Daniel Bethell lost his badminton gold medal match 2-0 to India’s Pramod Bhagat. The sport is being played at a Paralympics for the first time.

It was a repeat of the 2019 World Championship final that also ended in silver for Bethell.

Britain’s Krysten Coombs lost his semi-final in the men’s singles SH6 competition and will play Vitor Gonçales Tavares of Brazil for the bronze medal on Sunday.

The British sprinter Jonnie Peacock has called for equal pay for para-athletes, saying that disabled athletes are being included in publicity for athletic meets, but not being paid anything like that of their counterparts. “Meet organisers are going: ‘Aren’t we great for equality having a race on? But you should be grateful that you have a race so don’t dare come and ask for prize money.’

“I would love to see equal pay. That would be the next step. We have Lottery funding but British sport needs to recognise the value that Paralympic and disabled athletes bring.