Australian wheelchair basketball captain Shelley Chaplin has enjoyed the experience of racing at her first National Canoe Sprint Championships in Perth this week.
The two-time Paralympic silver and bronze medallist took up paddling just a few months ago after the Gliders missed out on making the Paralympic Games.
“We didn’t qualify for the women’s wheelchair basketball team and so I was a bit heartbroken and decided to try a few different things and one of them was paddling,” Chaplin said.
“I started paddling to mend my heart and I was a little bit okay at it so I became competitive and now I absolutely love it.”
“I love getting on the water and it is so different to basketball because in wheelchair basketball you go from one chair to another but in this you get in a boat and in water and you can go wherever you want and I really love the sport.”
Chaplin has produced some encouraging performances at her first Nationals, including a third place finish in the K1 200 multi-class final which saw her collect a silver medal behind Susan Seipel in the KL2 class.
The Patterson Lakes paddler believes her positive performances can be attributed to the three years of training she undertook pursuing a basketball berth in Rio and the fitness levels she has maintained over her 14-year career.
Despite some positive results in Perth, Chaplin is yet to decide whether she will return to basketball but she has found a new sport that will play a large part of her life moving forward.
“I have got a lot of tough decisions to make but I think I will always paddle now and I think it will be a big part of my life but I do not know about international competition or anything like that, my heart is still with basketball but this is so refreshing following the disappointment of basketball,” Chaplin said.
Chaplin has enjoyed the experience of racing at her first Nationals.
“It has been unreal, I have loved it, I have really enjoyed the atmosphere of the regatta and everyone has been so welcoming and it has been really cool.”