CANOEING: Fourth European team gold for Kimberley Woods

Great Britain's European C1 women's team champions Sophie Ogilvie, Mallory Franklin and Kimberley Woods
Great Britain's European C1 women's team champions Sophie Ogilvie, Mallory Franklin and Kimberley Woods

Rugby's canoe star also wins individual C1 bronze in France

Rugby’s canoe star Kimberley Woods has won team gold for Great Britain at the European Championships for the fourth consecutive time.

Rugby's Kimberley Woods (right) with her C1 individual bronze medal alongside coach Craig Morris and gold medallist Mallory Franklin

Rugby's Kimberley Woods (right) with her C1 individual bronze medal alongside coach Craig Morris and gold medallist Mallory Franklin

As well as taking the C1 women’s team title, along with Mallory Franklin and Sophie Ogilvie, Kimberley also won the individual C1 bronze medal at the event in Lau, France at the weekend.

Kimberley first won the team gold back in 2016 and this year the British trio posted a time of 127.14 seconds to finish first ahead of Germany and the Czech Republic.

Relieved to have kept up their record of success, Kimberley said: “Every year we have the belief we are going to do it and we have such strength in depth in women’s C1 in Britain.

“Mallory and I had a new team this year with Sophie in and last year it was Bethan Forrow, but we are capable of bringing the best out of the third paddler.

“We are really proud to get four on the trot and it is just going to get harder and harder particularly with a home Europeans at Lee Valley next year.”

In the women’s C1 (canoe single) heats Kimberley set the fastest time of the day of 108.71 seconds on her way to Sunday’s semi-final, hoping for her third individual European crown after victories in 2015 and 2017.

But the technically difficult course, ironically set by GB coach Richard Hounslow, proved a tough challenge.

There were penalties for every competitor in the semi-final and Mallory was a class apart in the final, taking gold in 109.95s to win her first ever senior European title, more than ten seconds ahead of Nuria Vilarrubla from Spain in 120.15s and Kimberley in third with 125.39s.

Kimberley was also thrilled to be back on the C1 podium, after a rollercoaster week, which started with her crashing out of the kayak (K1) heats on Thursday. She added: “My week got off to a rough start not making the semi-final in kayak, but I got my head focused on C1 and winning the gold with the girls gave me a confidence boost along with winning the C1 heats, so to come away with a medal was a miracle with that run.

“It was a huge relief to make it through to the final and to get back on the podium was amazing and I feel things are going in the right direction now.”

Kimberley now has her sights on next weekend’s (June 14-16) World Cup on home water at Lee Valley.

This is the second of Great Britain’s selection events for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which will culminate with the World Championships in La Seu d’Urgell in Spain in September.

Athletes first had to compete and win selection to the British senior team at their trials in April, with three places per boat class.

Kimberley won selection as one of those three in both C1 and K1 classes.