From Rugby Canoe Club to the Olympics: Town ready to cheer Kimberley Woods in Tokyo

Slalom canoeist representing Team GB in Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Kimberley Woods receiving a Division 1 trophy at Holme Pierrepont in 2008

The name of Kimberley Woods has been appearing on our sports pages for over 15 years – since she started competing for Rugby Canoe Club as a nine year old.

Avid readers will have been following her progress from the very beginning of her career – and couldn’t be happier that she has achieved her dream of representing Great Britain at Toyko 2020.

Although Kimberley is based close to Lee Valley White Water Centre these days, so she can train full time, the former Rugby College student would love to bring home an Olympic medal to show everyone in Rugby who has supported her on this journey.

Kimberley Woods paddling in 2009

And, having consistently proved herself as one of the world’s top canoeists, Kimberley is going into the Games confident with her fitness and form.

Still only 25, she has been competing in both C1 and K1 slalom as a member of the British senior teams since 2012.

In Toyko this week she will be representing Team GB in the women’s K1 event - and knows she will have plenty of people cheering her on from Rugby sofas as she paddles the Olympic course.

The heats begin very early on Sunday morning our time (1350 in Japan, which is eight hours ahead), with the first run starting around 5.50am at the Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre, and the second run a couple of hours later.

Kimberley Woods with her collection of medals and trophies in 2012

Then she will have to wait for the semi-final until Tuesday (27th), again starting early for us at 6am with the final around 8.15am.

Kimberley, who has a degree in Sports Studies from Hertfordshire University , will be hoping to add to her already impressive list of achievements.

Most recently, after months out of competition because of the pandemic, in May Kimberley was delighted to be back on the water to win team gold (K1) and silver (C1) medals in the European Championships in Italy.

It was the fifth consecutive time Great Britain’s women had medalled in C1 at the Europeans.

And her British Canoeing CV for the last couple of years is just as outstanding: 2018 European and World C1 Team champion, two-time European Champion C1, 2018 U23 World Championships C1 silver and K1 bronze, 2019 World Cup double silver medallist, C1 Team European Champion, K1 World Championship team gold medallist.

Whatever happens in Tokyo Kimberley knows being selected in Great Britain’s Olympic quartet is a tremendous achievement in itself, the result of years of hard work and dedication which all began as an eight year old, joining her family to first sit in a boat at Hillmorton.

Canoeing is a sport where anything can happen on the day and Rugby will be wishing her well and hoping that it turns out to be Kimberley’s day.