Chippington to keep pushing on after golden World Championships
After achieving the elusive canoe Grand Slam, six-time Paralympian Jeanette Chippington is still hungry for more, setting her sights on Tokyo 2020 in her 50th year.
The paracanoeist won gold at last week’s Paracanoe Sprint World Championships meaning she has won the Paralympic, World and European titles in a single calendar year.
Should the 47-year-old compete in Japan, Chippington will have taken part in Paralympics across five different decades, having made her debut as a swimmer at Seoul 1988.
Chippington is at the pinnacle of her sport, but that is the very reason she refuses to retire.
“When people ask me if I’m going to give it up, it’s always a really easy question to answer,” she said.
When you’ve been successful, that is such a great feeling, so why would I give up when I’m at the top? Jeanette Chippington
“All I would like to achieve is to carry on enjoying what I’m doing, if I can do that then I can carry on until Tokyo.
“I just want to do the best I possibly can, as long as you’ve trained as hard as you could have done, the outcome doesn’t matter so much.
“I don’t measure my success in medals, I never have done.
“The most important thing is the support I get from my family and the joy they get from coming out to different countries and watching me be successful.”
Chippington’s medal haul includes 12 Paralympic swimming medals as well as one K1 200m gold at last year’s Games in Rio.
Despite such an illustrious career, it was the Grand Slam which made the 11-time world title winner step back and recognise her success.
Following her win in the Czech Republic, Chippington returned home to celebrate her father-in-law John’s 80th birthday and it was here that she realised the enormity of what she had done.
“As an athlete you’re continually striving to be the best you can be and to always do better and sometimes you don’t give yourself time to reflect on how well you’ve done,” she added.
“With this and my gold in Rio, I never take it for granted. It’s an amazing achievement because you can only do it every four years.
“In every single race, I’ve had to fight really hard for that title, unless you’re in the sport you don’t realise how hard it is to do.
“I’ve had a really tough time recently, my family came out to Rio to watch but both my parents haven’t been well this year.
“I love racing and training, but it’s not all about me, it’s about the joy my family gets from that as well.”
Chippington’s parents, Jean and David, have travelled to watch their daughter in all six of the Paralympics in which she has competed, all the way back to her first appearance in 1988.
The British team eventually finished the 2017 World Championships with six medals in total – three gold, a silver and two bronze – once again proving themselves as one of the leading para-canoe nations.
And while Jonathan Young and Emma Wiggs also took titles, it was seeing teammate Lindsay Thorpe win bronze on her World Championships debut which brought memories of her early years flooding back for Paralympic stalwart Chippington.
“It was lovely to see Lindsay at her first major championships, she was nervous and it was the first time she’d flown,” she said.
“It brought back memories of my first Paralympics, because that was the first time I’d flown.
“You forget all the things you have to deal with when you’re young, because it’s all new experiences.
“Not only are you competing at major championships, you’re away from home and family, you’re travelling and you’ve got to cope with all of that – she was a really nice team member.”