Paralympic Hopeful, Charlotte Wilkinson-Burnett, Dropped From British Canoeing Team Because Her Injuries Are 'Psychological'

A British paralympian hopeful has been dropped from the canoeing squad over doubts about her disability.

Charlotte Wilkinson-Burnett, who has been in a wheelchair since 2011, has been told her condition is "psychological" and therefore does not qualify to compete as a British Paralympian in the 2016 Rio De Janeiro competition next year.

The 23-year-old said she is paralysed from the waist down after suffering a T8 spinal injury when she slipped in the shower while she was working at a summer sports camp in America.

Charlotte Wilkinson-Burnett

But tests carried out by doctors have revealed that the young Paralympic hopeful has “conversion disorder”, which can cause people to suffer from physical disabilities, such as paralysis, derived from psychological stress.

The news has left Ms Wilkinson-Burnett "heartbroken".

She joined the British Canoeing team as a paralympic athlete a year after her fall and this year she became world champion in Duisburg, Germany.

The Leicester Mercury reports that the Leicester Royal Infirmary said that Ms Wilkinson-Burnett's injuries were "psychological, not physical".

Medical experts in America, the royal infirmary and the Queen's Medical Centre, in Nottingham, all said they could not find any physical reason that was preventing her from walking.

The news has led to Ms Wilkinson-Burnett being dropped from the British team as she no longer qualifies under International Canoe Federation rules.

Ms Wilkinson-Burnett wrote on her blog: "This week I should have been competing at the World Championships but following my de classification this is clearly no longer happening.

"I thought that I'd be able to accept what has happened and watch my friends compete, but this has been one of the most heartbreaking times of my entire sporting career.

"Knowing that I should have been on that start line today broke me.

"I had worked so hard for it, overcome serious injury which I guess you could say has made it harder for me. I guess this just proves how quickly your dreams can fall apart."

A British Canoeing spokesperson said: "We have advised the International Canoe Federation of this additional information and confirmed that Charlotte has been de-selected from the British team for the World Championships and will be leaving the programme.

"We are extremely surprised and disappointed with this turn of events which is a huge blow to Charlotte, who is a very talented and committed athlete, but it is vital that the integrity of the classification process is upheld to ensure it provides a level playing field for all athletes to participate.

"We will continue to support Charlotte as she makes the transition out of the programme."

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