Jeanette Chippington: 'I rediscovered the old me just in time'

Reflecting on a year which brought her a 14th Paralympic medal as well as an OBE in the New Year Honours list, Jeanette Chippington found herself thinking about her state of mind heading into the Tokyo Paralympics.

Reflecting on a year which brought her a 14th Paralympic medal as well as an OBE in the New Year Honours list, para-canoeist Jeanette Chippington found herself thinking about her state of mind heading into the Tokyo Paralympics.

For the first time in her career, the Maidenhead athlete admits she experienced negative thoughts heading into the Games, although she didn’t allow those demons to get the better of her.

The 51-year-old had won medals at each of her previous six Paralympic Games dating back to Seoul in 1988 but that gnawing feeling of not being good enough was banished from her mind just in time for the final, where she claimed a battling bronze in the VL2 class behind compatriot Emma Wiggs who won gold.

She said she managed to rediscover the ‘old Jeanette’ just in time and hasn’t yet ruled out the possibility of competing for further Paralympic glory at Paris in 2024.

“It was tough,” she said. “The last time we’d competed was two years before and it was actually on the Olympic course. Because of COVID we hadn’t raced against our competitors, so we weren’t able to see where we were in comparison to them.

“All I could go off was how it had been two years before so I knew it would be tough to get that bronze.

“It’s probably the first time I’ve gone to a Games with quite a few negative thoughts. The night before my race I thought ‘come on you can do this, there’s no reason why I can’t get the silver’. The old Jeanette came back, and I was really positive again.”