Rio 2016 Paralympics: Emma Wiggs aims for gold in Para-canoeing

Emma Wiggs
Emma Wiggs has won five Para-canoeing world titles across the K1 and Va'a boats
Paralympic Games on the BBC
Venue: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Dates: 7-18 September Time in Rio: BST -4
Coverage: Live updates, video clips, medal table, results and news alerts, catch-up service, plus commentary on BBC Radio 5 live. Television coverage on Channel 4.

The virus that caused Emma Wiggs to lose the use of her legs 18 years ago may remain a mystery - but her reasons for being a five-time world champion are less of an enigma.

"It made me more determined and more stubborn. Possibly, that is why I've ended up where I am today," the Para-canoeist told BBC East Midlands Today earlier this year.

That stubbornness has taken Wiggs to Rio 2016, ready to try and convert four years of winning into a Paralympic gold medal when Para-canoeing makes its debut at the Games on Wednesday.

Wiggs, 36, was 18 years old and on a gap year in Australia when she became ill. It changed her life forever.

"I was chasing and shearing sheep and working on a farm," said Harrow-born Wiggs. "About six weeks in I contracted a virus; we still don't know where from, but it basically left me paralysed in my arms and legs overnight

"I'm lucky that my arms recovered, but my legs didn't. I didn't want it to influence my future and what I wanted to achieve, my hopes and aspirations."

Wiggs with the London 2012 sitting volleyball team
Four years ago Wiggs (bottom left) competed at London 2012 in GB's sitting volleyball team

Wiggs went on to become a PE teacher and, after being discovered at a British talent day, captained GB's sitting volleyball team to a bronze medal at the world championships and then competed at London 2012.

She immediately set out to find a new challenge and, five months after sitting in a canoe for the first time, she was 2013 Para-canoe K1 sprint world champion.

And then 2014 world champion. And then 2015. And 2016. She was also 2014 world champion in the Va'a class.

Oh, and add a world record in there too.

On Wednesday she races in the K1 KL2 class 200m heats (13:20 BST) and, all being well, the semi-finals (14:22 BST), before Thursday's final (13:16 BST).

"Right. The time has come. Three and a half years of hard work on the water and in the gym," she wrote in a Twitter post this week.

"It's been an incredible few years. I've done everything I possibly could to be the best I could be and that has got me here."

Emma Wiggs

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