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By Jamie Arrowsmith Wednesday 05 December 2012 Updated: 05/12 14:02
AS EVERYONE looks back on their memories of an Olympic year, one Warwickshire sportswoman is savouring her success as junior European Champion and setting her sights on the Rio Olympics of 2016.
Kimberley Woods, 17, won gold in the C1W and silver in the K1W class - single canoeing and kayaking for women - at the European Championships in Slovenia, in September. She is also now ranked third in the UK National Senior rankings in K1W.
Kimberley is combining studies at Warwickshire College in Rugby with frequent training. As well as canoeing practice on Rugby’s canals, supervised by her granddad, she travels to Nottingham for two days of coaching a week with Olympic development programme coaches, and also fits in running and four sessions in the gym.
She had to miss a few days off the start of her BTEC Extended Diploma in Sport to race in Slovenia, but says the college has been very supportive of her efforts to succeed on the water. She travelled to Slovenia from Prague, where she had competed in the Senior World Cup.
Kimberley said: “I do it non-stop pretty much. I focus on coursework all the time too, but I am either running, in the gym or on the water.
“Last year I managed to get into the finals and I was hoping to get into some this year, and I got medals.”
Kimberley was interested in canoeing from a young age, inspired by her aunt who had won a silver medal in the sport competing on the Wausau whitewater course in Wisconsin in USA in 1994. This made it extra special when the Junior Slalom and U23 canoe and kayak World Championship was held there this summer for the first time since, and Kimberley was able to compete in it, her first time outside Europe.
She said: “Going there was when I finally reached my goal and I was 0.31 seconds off bronze and there were a few mistakes in my run. The girl who won a silver medal in the Olympics was also in that category.”
Kimberley also gained gold with two other team members to enable the K1W team to become World Champions and regain their title.
Inevitably she gets asked about her Olympic hopes. She said: “Everyone at my old school used to ask if I was going to the 2012 Olympics but I was five places off. 2016 will definitely be my aim. I will be 21 then and I will be stronger so I want to go for that. I am up there with the seniors now and have had second place against them so I am definitely hoping to aim for that.”
However, there are fewer competitions open to women in the Olympics than men, and at the moment C1 women’s classes are not in the programme. There is a campaign for equality, but it will not be until this time next year it will be known if it is successful.
Sam Starvis, Technical Academy Manager for Sports and Public Services at Warwickshire College, said: “She’s doing brilliantly. She’s a really conscientious student who balances her studies and work outside college really well and we support her in terms of her academic study and making sure she can do both. And we all want tickets to Rio in 2016 to see her there.”
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