Paracanoe quotas were confirmed for this year’s Tokyo Paralympic Games on the penultimate day of qualifiers at the ICF world cup in Szeged on Friday.

Blake Haxton, who competed at the 2016 Paralympics in para rowing, will get the chance to compete in two sports in Tokyo after successfully qualifying for the men’s VL2 in paracanoe.

“I hadn’t really raced until last year, and I really didn’t know how this race would go,” Haxton said.

“I’m surprised. I hoped to stick around and maybe get to Paris and make that team, so to get here and qualify, I really hadn’t let myself think this was a possibility, I didn’t want to get my hopes up.

“Now I get to go. This is pretty unreal really. I’m having a blast. I’m going to double up, I’m going to give it a shot. I’ll need to do my homework, there’s a couple of days off in between, I figured we won’t know unless we try.”

Watch an interview with Steven 'Blake' Haxton here

Brazil’s Fernando Rufino de Paulo already had his ticket booked for Tokyo, and confirmed his medal prospects with a strong win in the men’s VL2.

Rufino is eying off both the VL2 and KL2 in Japan.

“It’s so good to be back here in Szeged, where I won my ticket for Tokyo,” he said.

“I’m so proud to represent Brazil, I’m yellow and green, I’m looking forward to representing millions of people in Tokyo. I believe so much in our team, and in our potential."

Watch an interview with Fernando Rufino de Paulo

Brianna Hennessy struggled to hold back the tears after booking her ticket to Tokyo in the women’s VL2, less than 12 months after sitting in a kayak for the first time.

The Canadian became a tetraplegic after being hit by a speeding taxi while crossing the road in 2014, putting at threat an active sporting career that included ice hockey, field hockey, boxing and rugby.

“For me, the best part of it is to be able to inspire others that have had a catastrophic accident or that have disabilities, that you don’t have to stop believing in yourself or your dreams,” Hennessy said.

“I’ve been an elite athlete all my life before my accident, so it’s an absolute honour to be able to represent my country. Once you find the new perspective that there is strength in the struggle, then it starts to mean a lot more, and you find yourself again.”

Watch an interview with Brianna Hennesy here

Russia’s Mariia Nikiforova, already qualified for Tokyo, won the women’s VL2 gold medal.

Spain’s Adrian Mosquera made the decision to cross from KL3 to VL3 because he felt it gave him a better chance at getting to Tokyo, and on Friday that decision paid off when he won the final and secured a Paralympic ticket.

“In my first race in Vaá I finished fourth, and now, after training hard all the winter now I am a champion. It’s incredible,” Mosquera said.

“At the start of the season I was unsure, but as time passed the sessions in the water were much better. This sensation, to be going to Tokyo, is the best. This has been my dream for four years, now it has to reality, it’s unbelievable.”

Watch an interview with Adrian Mosquera here

Eddie Potdevin is also set for his first Paralympics, after the former motocross rider secured a quota for France in the men’s VL3.

It’s been a long two years for the Frenchman, who had hoped to secure his quota in Szeged in 2019.

“It’s been very difficult for me, two years ago I wanted to qualify at the world championships, but I couldn’t do it,” Potdevin said.

“Today is very special for me, my family, my wife, my coach. I have been working every day to make it happen, but it has been very difficult in the conditions. But the problem is now finished, it is a good day in Szeged.”

Watch an interview with Eddie Potdevin here

All quota allocations are subject to ratification by the International Canoe Federation and by national federations and their national Olympic committees.

The ICF paracanoe world cup and Paralympic qualifiers conclude on Saturday.

Russia Mariia Nikiforova paracanoe Szeged 2021