CANOEING: Great Britain squad selection for Rugby's canoe star

After last years successes Kimberley Woods was crowned Rugbys Sportswoman of the Year 2018 and is pictured receiving her award from former England rugby international Vicky Macqueen at the ceremony in February
After last years successes Kimberley Woods was crowned Rugbys Sportswoman of the Year 2018 and is pictured receiving her award from former England rugby international Vicky Macqueen at the ceremony in February

Kimberley Woods earns place at both Canadian and Kayak for 2019

Rugby’s Kimberley Woods has almost certainly qualified for the 2019 Great Britain canoe slalom team at both Canadian and Kayak.

She is also in second place in both classes going forward to the next Olympic selection race, with her sights firmly on Japan 2020.

The Rugby Canoe Club star was taking part in the GB senior Canoe Slalom Team selection event at Lee Valley White Water centre over Easter.

This is the iconic venue that hosted the 2012 Olympic Games.

The selection event was held over three days, the first day being a standard format of the best result from two runs. The following two days were a heat then the fastest six went through to the final to decide the winner.

The event was also the first of three events to select the single boat in each class to represent Great Britain in the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Kimberley competes in both Kayak and Canadian Classes of canoe slalom which gives her a gruelling schedule of four competitive runs each day.

The course designers presented athletes with three challenging courses over the weekend, designed with fast racing and testing technical competence in mind which produced very competitive racing across all classes.

On the Saturday Kimberley in the Kayak class set the fastest time on the first run some five seconds in front of the rest of the field.

She then repeated it on her second run, winning the first leg by 0.05 sec from Mallory Franklin in second place and Fiona Penny in third, both competitors were in last year’s senior team.

On the Sunday Kimberley had a two-second penalty for touching a pole on a gate which dropped her to fourth place in the heats, only 1.42 seconds off the lead, but in the final she was slightly off line for the last gate.

In attempting to reach it she got tipped over and rolled up but lost too much time finishing in sixth place.

On the last day it was all to race for, with only Fiona certain of a place in the team and the Olympic place not certain. Kimberley had a slow first run having difficulty with a tight section of the course getting a two-second penalty resulting in five seconds off the pace and sixth place - the last qualification spot for the final.

On the final run Kimberley was first off, being the last qualifier.

She pulled out all the stops with a time of 94.77 seconds, over a second faster than the fastest time set in the heat by the winner Malory Franklin.

Fiona Penny was the only paddler to match Kimberley getting the same time, making them both in joint first place with Mallory Franklin a close third place.

On Saturday in the Canadian Class Kimberley was the only competitor on the first run to get it clean with no penalties, finishing in first place over eight seconds in front of Mallory Franklin who had received eight seconds on penalties.

But on the second run Mallory came back to win by just 0.7 seconds.

On Sunday Mallory Franklin took the honours, winning both the heat and final with the next paddler over seven seconds behind Kimberley in second place.

On the last day it was Kimberley’s turn, winning both heat and final.

The pressure was too much for Mallory Franklin who made too many mistakes in the heat, and did not qualifying for the final.

Kimberley, after a consistent series of races has qualified for the senior team in both classes, subject to ratification by the international panel.

She is also in second place in both classes going forward to the next Olympic selection race to be held at Lee Valley as part of the Canoe Slalom World Cup taking place there in June this year.

Last year, representing Great Britain, Kimberley was part of the gold medal winning C1 Team at both the World and European Championships.

She also helped the GB K1 Team to World bronze as well as picking up individual C1 silver and K1 bronze at the Under 23s World Championship.