Kimberley Woods Crowned European Champion
Published 3 June 2017
Update from British Canoeing
Great Britain’s Kimberley Woods won her second gold medal in two days, to become European Champion in the women’s canoe single (C1) for the second time in her career. She won C1 Team gold yesterday, with teammates Mallory Franklin and Eilidh Gibson, at the four-day event in Tacen, Slovenia.
With confirmation that the women’s C1 will be included in the next Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020 as part of the International Olympic Committee’s gender equity plans, there has never been a better time for the 21 year old from Rugby to put a marker down in the first international race of this new Olympic cycle.
She last won this event in 2015 and today finished more than 2.5 seconds ahead of Tereza Fiserova from the Czech Republic and Austria’s Nadine Weratschnig, with the 2016 European Champion, Nuria Vilarrubla from Spain in fourth.
The growing strength in depth of this C1 class over the last few years following its inclusion in the Olympic programme, makes Kimberley’s achievement all the more impressive.
Woods is no stranger to success on Tacen’s voluminous and unpredictable river course, having won gold here in the 2016 World Cup Final and said:
“I was pretty emotional on the finish line and then had to wait for the last paddler to go down the course to see if I had won.
“I felt a little bit of pressure coming here, as I won the World Cup on this course last September. I was also a bit messy down the course yesterday and picked up a couple of touches, so coming into this I thought I just need to attack it and stay on form as much as I could. The bit I was most worried about was the bottom of the course, because there was a lot of time in it, when it is normally the top that is the problem, but I nailed that today and got a good line. Here at Tacen the water surges so much, so you just have to do the best you can with the water that you’ve got and I did that well and used it to my advantage.
“It was really important for me to put a marker down and it just shows how much the C1 class has come on. I still feel I have a lot of time in my run, but it was just really important that I came away with a win and it will give me a lot of confidence for the races to come. Last time I won this event in 2015 I had a great season, so I am hoping that this year will be even better and that I can keep my form throughout the World Cup Series, U23 Worlds and building through to the World Championships in Pau at the end of the year.
Doubling up to also compete in the kayak single (K1), Kimberley will contest the semi final tomorrow and will be hoping she can tame this course again for a third successive day.
Also in the women’s C1, Mallory Franklin picked up a 50 second penalty in the semi final and failed to progress, whilst Scotland’s Eilidh Gibson joined Woods in the final, but had to settle for 9th place, unable to replicate her excellent semi final run when she was third.
There were also mixed fortune’s for Britain’s men in the kayak single (K1) with Olympic Champion, Joe Clarke, and 2016 World Cup silver medallist, Bradley Forbes-Cryans both going out in the semis. It was then left to 18 year old Chris Bowers from Staffordshire, making his senior European debut to contest the final having finished fifth in the semi final ahead of some of the world’s best. He gave another strong performance, but couldn’t quite match his previous speed and finished in 14th place.
Chris Bowers, an accountancy student at University of East London added: “I was really pleased with my semi and going into the final I thought that I had got nothing to lose. It was a solid run, although I got a silly touch and lost time in a couple of places, but overall I thought it was a good day’s racing.
“It really gives me confidence going into the first three World Cups to see I can mix it with the senior guys and that I have got the pace to put a time down good enough to make the final. Once you are there, then anything can happen.”