CANOEING: First World Cup gold for young star

Kimberley Woods
Kimberley Woods
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Rugby Canoe Club’s Kimberley Woods won gold for Great Britain at the Cardiff white water centre last weekend.

The 17-year-old star’s first individual senior medal came in the Canadian competition at the opening round of the International Canoe Federation Canoe Slalom World Cup.

“I’m over the moon,” said Kimberley, who won Rugby’s Sports Person of the Year 2012.

“I went off first and managed to put in a really solid run down, then it was really nerve racking having to watch everyone else. I’ve never been in that situation before.

“The next round is in Augsburg in Germany next week and I’m a lot more confident now. I hope I can put in the same performance.”

Kimberley qualified eighth from the heats, despite some mistakes adding time to her runs.

In the semi-finals, on a new course Kimberley had a good run until just in front of the final gate where she got caught by a wave and tipped over, rolling up very quickly but then getting caught on the next wave for several seconds before negotiating the final gate and sprinting to the finish into 10th place, which is the last place for qualifying for the final.

For the final the competitors start in the reverse order which meant Kimberley was first to race. She negotiated the course smoothly, not losing any time, and only receiving one time penalty of two seconds - crossing the finish line faster than the winning semi-final time.

Kimberley’s near perfect run had set the standard, putting pressure on the following paddlers and she could only watch and wait.

One by one the competitors all finished slower. The last one down was Jessica Fox, the Australian Olympian who was in top form until she made a mistake on the last move of the course, costing her valuable time leaving Kimberley in first place. Team mate Malory Franklin finished third.

Kimberley has a busy season ahead, with the Junior Worlds in Slovakia and Junior Europeans in France next month, as well as the Senior Worlds in Prague in September and other World Cup series rounds.