European champion ready for world stage
It’s already been a year to remember for European canoe individual champion Kimberley Woods and the Rugby paddler is adamant she has the mindset to deal with the new level of expectation around her.
Back in May, Woods beat teammate Mallory Franklin by almost three seconds to take C1 gold at the Canoe Slalom European Championships in Germany.
It added to what had already been a successful year for the 19-year-old who had booked her place on the Great Britain team for the season in both in the individual canoe and kayak categories as well as earning double bronze at the World Under-23 Championships in Brazil.
But the year is far from done yet for the Rugby Canoe Club star with the final two World Cup events coming up in the first half of August before September’s World Championships on home soil and GB Rio Olympic selection races shortly after that.
And while her status has grown in recent months, Woods insists she will not lose focus.
“It always plays on my mind thinking maybe I should do a bit better than before,” she said.
“But I think recently I’ve been working really hard on my mindset of racing and trying to replicate that for each race.
“Going into the next two World Cups will help me figure out to not put that much pressure on myself. I’m always going to feel that pressure but I’m just really excited, especially with the World Championships coming up.
“It started off as a really great year, we had Under-23 selection which I made the team in both boats and then we moved on to the senior selections which I made the team in both boats for the first time.
“We moved onto the Under-23 World Championships which I achieved PBs in which was a really great start and then moving onto the European seniors and I became senior European champion in the canoe single woman.
“It was a great achievement. Last year I didn’t make the senior team and I really wanted to make a strong comeback and I did that.”
Woods, who trains at GB Canoeing’s elite centre at the Lee Valley White Water Centre – venue for London 2012 and host of this year’s World Championships from September 16-20 – will be in action next week for the World Cup in Spain before switching to France the following weekend for the final round.
And taking a step into the unknown in terms of the competing on the courses for the first time, Woods is adapting a measured approach.
“The next World Cup is next week in Spain, I’ve not been there before but I’ve heard it‘s a very technical course and I’m really looking forward to getting on the water,” she added. “And then in France, again I’ve never been there before but I’ve seen it’s quite similar to Lee Valley. I’m really excited.
“It would be amazing to get results there. I want to maybe get my first final in kayak, which will be a really good achievement. But I’m not really expecting much because I’ve not been to these venues before. I’m going in just hoping to paddle my best and see what comes out.”
See the world’s top canoe slalom athletes in action on the Olympic course in London at the Canoe Slalom World Championships. Tickets: www.ticketmaster.co.uk/london2015