Kimberley Woods: 'Excited, proud and in shape to do my best in Tokyo Olympics'

Rugby's star canoeist ready for the opportunity of a lifetime representing Great Britain in Japan

Kimberley Woods on the water at Lee Valley, preparing to represent Team GB in the Tokyo Olympics   (Picture by Sam Mellish)
Kimberley Woods on the water at Lee Valley, preparing to represent Team GB in the Tokyo Olympics (Picture by Sam Mellish)

Rugby's Kimberley Woods knows the whole town will be behind her when she paddles for TeamGB in the Toyko Olympics at the end of the month.

She is one of only four canoeists - two men and two women - selected to represent Great Britain at the 2020 Games, an incredible achievement in itself.

And Kimberley is determined to make the most of the opportunity, do herself and the country proud and above all enjoy it.

“I’m feeling really excited now” said the 25-year-old, busy packing for last Monday’s departure from Heathrow.

“It’s becoming very real. It’s come round so quickly. It doesn’t seem that long ago since the first lockdown.

“I’m really happy to have been back on the circuit and managed to get some World Cup races in, so I have a good idea as to where I am.

“Since then I’ve been trying to stay healthy and isolated and working really hard. I’ve had some PBs on the flat, so I’m going to Tokyo in a really good place.

“I just want to get paddling now. It’s been a while since we were out there (December 2019) and the course was similar to Lee Valley, but easier.

“I’m really looking forward to moving into the Village on the 19th too, which will be really special, just to think I am part of it .

“I think I will be nervous. It’s one of the biggest races of my career so far and to know how far I’ve come, a normal girl from Rugby being able to go to the Olympics.”

Kimberley was just eight when she first sat in a boat with Rugby Canoe Club and nine when she started competing.

“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime - you never know what can happen in three years - so I will take each day as it comes and go out there and enjoy it.

“It’s one of the easier courses, which in some ways makes it harder. Anything can happen on the day, it’s whoever makes the least mistakes.

“I’m feeling really strong and confident and I know I will do myself proud and do my best.

“It will be a very special moment if I do manage to win a medal and bring it home to show everyone and inspire others to chase their dreams. It’s been an amazing experience so far.

“I’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has joined me on this journey, especially my sponsors Jaffa and Nationwide Windows.

“I know I have the whole town behind me. It will be an incredible experience whatever happens. I’ll be on the start line thinking about how much support I have at home.

“I’d also like to thank everyone who buys a national lottery ticket, helping us to inspire future generations to get into sport.”