CANOEING champion Kimberley Woods has been shortlisted in the top ten nominees for the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year.
Last year it was won by another Rugby girl, golfing star Lauren Taylor - highlighting the wealth of young talent in the town.
Kimberley, 17, is waiting to hear whether she has made the top three, who will be invited to the ceremony at ExCel London on December 16.
As the current holder Lauren will be a guest of honour with her sister Charlotte - and it would be fantastic if Kimberley’s could be the next name on the trophy.
Past winners include diver Tom Daley, swimmer Eleanor Simmonds, tennis player Andy Murray and footballer Wayne Rooney.
Kimberley has had an incredible year, representing Great Britain, winning a host of international medals and becoming European Junior Champion.
She has already been crowned Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire Young Sportswoman of the Year 2012 and just missed out on SportAid’s prestigious One-to-Watch award, having reached the final three chosen from 1,700 of the country’s best youngsters.
A student at Warwickshire College in Rugby, Kimberley is one of only two women in Great Britain who compete at international level in both categories of canoe slalom, Canadian and Kayak.
In May she helped Great Britain take the C1W team bronze in the European Championships in Germany. In the World Junior and U23 Championships in Wasau, Wisconsin, USA in July she won team gold in the K1W as well as team and individual bronze medals in the C1W.
And in September Kimberley won her first individual C1W gold at the European Junior and U23 Championships in Solkan, Slovenia and took silver in the K1W.
Kimberley is coached by the Olympic Development Programme coaches Gareth Wilson and Craig Morris, and it was Gareth who nominated her for the BBC award. He told Kimberley last Tuesday that she had been shortlisted, but she wasn’t allowed to tell anyone until the official announcement at the weekend.
“I was just really, really happy when he told me,” said the Rugby Canoe Club member, who started her BTEC Extended Diploma in Sport in September. “To have made the top ten from everyone in the country is just amazing. It was difficult for me to keep it quiet!”
Although the season is now over until March, Kimberley is as busy as ever working on her technique, strength and fitness. She trains twice a week locally on the canal and a further two days with her coaches at the Holme Pierrepont National Watersports Centre at Nottingham, as well as several running and gym sessions.
“I just love canoeing because it’s really competitive, really energetic,” she said. “It has taken me all over the world, which is all really great experience.”
Kimberley hopes to go into coaching as she says there’s currently a shortage of women coaches, but her ultimate goal is the 2016 Olympics.
“Everyone at my old school, Trinity School in Leamington, used to ask if I was going to the 2012 Olympics, but I was five places off,” she added. “My aim will definitely be Rio 2016 as I will be 21 then and although I’m up there with the seniors now, I will be stronger.”
Inspired by her aunt Diane, herself a world junior silver medallist back in 1994, Kimberley was just nine when she first tried canoeing and ten when she began racing.
She believes starting so young has definitely helped her to reach this level at such a young age. She is currently ranked third in the UK National Senior rankings in kayak and is very grateful to her grandparents John and Kathleen Woods for helping her to achieve everything she has so far.