Kimberley Woods wins team gold and silver at European Championships in Italy

Rugby canoeist in great form as she prepares for Toyko Olympics in July

Kimberley Woods paddling at the European Championships in Italy (Picture by Nina Jelenc)

Kimberley Woods won team gold and silver medals in the European Canoe Slalom Championships in Italy at the weekend, as she prepares for the Tokyo Olympics in July.

Great Britain’s K1 women triumphed in Ivrea, to add to their world title from the last time they raced in 2019.

Teaming up again with Fiona Pennie and Mallory Franklin, their experience, skill and pace showed as the British trio finished in 105.79, over two seconds ahead of silver medallists Austria.

Kimberley Woods paddling at the European Championships in Italy (Picture by Nina Jelenc)

Delighted Woods said: “It was great to come back and race together again as a team. We just wanted to enjoy it, and was awesome to get another go at the course. To have another podium and another medal is so pleasing.”

In the women’s C1 Woods joined forces with Franklin and Sophie Ogilvie to claim a silver medal, making it the fifth consecutive time the women’s C1 team have medalled at the Europeans.

It was a solid display from the trio with just one touch on gate six meaning they posted a time of 116.51, four seconds behind winners Slovakia, but emphasising the overall strength of the British women’s teams.

In the individual K1 - which she will be racing at the Olympics - having shown great character overcoming two early touches at the start of her semi-final, Woods was the third fastest going into the final.

Having flown out of the start, she reached the first time check almost two seconds ahead of split time put down by the eventual winner Corrina Kuhnle (91.42).

However, after the challenging mid-section, which forced her slightly off track, Woods put everything into regaining lost time.

Unfortunately as she battled for late speed, she picked up a touch on the last gate which pushed her out of medal contention and she finished fifth in 96.72.

She said: “I’m disappointed, especially to have hit the last gate which ultimately cost me a medal but overall there are lots of positives to take away.

“I can see my speed is there and I got the fastest times in the heats and semi finals, it was the penalties that cost me, but to be in the top 10 across all three rounds, despite those mistakes just shows that all the hard work I’ve done over the past year is paying off.

“It’s a tricky course but I was trying to stay calm and look for the space. I’m pleased that I’ve got the speed to absorb mistakes but more so that I can stay head strong throughout the run to keep delivering, and I’ll take great confidence in that.

“We’re really lucky that we have great facilities at the Lee Valley White Water Centre and strength and depth across the team for race simulations at home but sitting on an international start and having that medal to aim for is a huge incentive.”

In her final event, Woods qualified in top spot for the C1 final but was denied a medal when she was controversially adjudged to have touched a gate.

Last to go, she was well ahead of the pack at the first split but the nose of her boat clipped gate 17.

Woods’ pace looked to have been enough, despite the two second penalty, to claim the bronze medal, but a late call for the deftest of touches on gate 20 took the former Rugby College student out of the podium position and into her second fifth place of the weekend with a time of 105.62.

Woods concluded: “I’m pretty gutted. So close yet so far to that podium.

“I am happy to have been in the final in both boats, especially the C1 as I haven’t trained as much in that. I was in pole position going into the final and I felt really good. It is just a terrible shame about that late penalty.

“The fact I got the quickest time of the day in the semi-finals shows I’ve worked so hard during this last year. To know I’ve got the speed in both C1 and my Olympic boat is great.

“It’s the first race of the season and our first for a very long time. I’m happy with everything in general when I take away from the initial disappointment. I’m proud of myself.”