11:59AM, Thursday 10 June 2021
Emotional Jeanette Chippington admits memories of her late father are fuelling her quest for a fourth Paralympic title at her seventh Games this summer.
Evergreen Taplow ace Chippington, 51, was officially selected in Paralympics GB’s eight-strong canoeing squad for Tokyo 2020 after starring as a swimmer at five consecutive Games from Seoul 1988.
She became GB’s maiden Paralympic canoeing champion as the sport made its debut at Rio 2016 but had her Tokyo preparations derailed by losing her father, David, to coronavirus at the beginning of the pandemic.
Chippington has needed to summon all her mental fortitude and says claiming a 13th Paralympic medal – including two golds in the pool at Atlanta 1996 – would be the perfect way to make her dad proud.
Chippington, one of more than 1,000 athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, said: “It’s been quite difficult the last year, because, sadly, I lost my dad right at the start of Covid.
“He unfortunately got Covid and that was a really tough time.
“My mum and dad came out to every single Games that I’ve competed at, so it will be hard not having him there.
“He wouldn’t have been able to come out anyway, but I know that he’d be so incredibly proud of me.”
Chippington will compete in the kayak event as she aims to defend her KL1 crown and will also feature in VL1 as Va’a makes its Paralympic debut.
She achieved the coveted paracanoe ‘Grand Slam’ in 2017 as she held the World, European and Paralympic titles at the same time – but admits she didn’t initially like the idea of getting in the boat.
“I didn’t want to start canoeing and it was a friend of mine that persuaded me to take it up,” she added. “I’d been used to swimming and the thought of getting in a boat in the freezing cold didn’t interest me in the slightest.
“But the moment I got in the boat, I just loved it and I think also, being a wheelchair user, being in the boat gives you freedom and it was just a new challenge.”
Chippington is one of over 1,000 athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme and will be hoping to add to the 864 Olympic and Paralympic medals won by Great Britain and Northern Ireland athletes since the advent of National Lottery funding in 1997.
Despite Tokyo marking her seventh Games this summer, she says she’s as motivated as ever ahead of her evergreen Japanese tilt.
“I’m completely, totally honoured to be selected and it’s so exciting,” she added.
“It’s my seventh Paralympic Games and that feeling of being selected is just the same as if it was my first Games. To be representing Great Britain again is just an amazing achievement.”
UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme allows Chippington to train full-time, access the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.
Despite competing at the Paralympics for over three decades, the Maidenhead native says she’s prepared for the unique nature of Tokyo.
“I’ve been to six Games and every single one has been different,” she said. “Everyone one has had challenges and through the lifetime of being a sportswoman you always have challenges along the way.
“This is going to be a different Games, but it’d be a different Games in its own right. I think it’ll be amazing.
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The changes could see Colnbrook with Poyle, Langley Kedermister and Foxborough wards moved from Slough to the Windsor parliamentary constituency.