Team Pocket had the opportunity to interview the young, inspiring British slalom canoeist Kimberley woods. Kimberley has competed at the international level since 2011. She won five medals at the ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships with three golds, a silver and a bronze. She has also won eleven medals at the European Championships and just arrived back from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics where we had a chance to catch up, and talk all things Canoe Slalom.
How did you first become involved/interested in Canoe Slalom?
I got involved through my grandparents. When I was younger I watched a recording of my auntie competing in the junior worlds in 1994 to win a silver medal. I was so inspired and wanted to do what she did. My grandparents said I needed to be able to swim to go paddling, so I learnt to swim in year 3, showed them my 50m badge and they took me to the local canoe club. I then learned to paddle a kayak in the swimming pool and fell in love.
How old were you when you realised you wanted to compete competitively?
I've always been a competitive person with anything I did. I'm the oldest out of our siblings so I always had it in my head that I had to be the best. With canoeing this was no different. I progressed very quickly through the divisions reaching the top division at the age of 13 within 4 years of paddling. It wasn't until around 2010 when I was 14/15 years old when I believed I could go much further than national races and the Olympics being one of the main goals.
What was it like being selected to be a part of Team GB at Tokyo 2020?
It's hard to fully put into words what it was like. I was selected in September 2019 from our world championships. The feelings that happened at that race were nothing I'd felt before. It was relief, happiness, proud of myself and quite overwhelming. Then Covid happened so the preparations were put on hold.
Finally travelling to Tokyo, a year later than planned and receiving all the team GB kit was amazing. It was a very special moment to be out there and in the Olympic Village amongst some of the most inspiring people on the planet. And I was one of them! I have so many memories from the Olympic Games and have made some really good friends too.
What do you love most about Canoe Slalom?
The best thing about my sport is that it is different every time you do a session. There are so many variables that can throw you offline or be against you, but to be able to put down a performance or a specific technique with everything that is going on, that is the feeling that sticks. Being able to control something that is completely out of your control, you feel powerful, strong and capable of anything. We do not have any world records because each course is different across the world. Even if there are races on the same course, the gates can be changed ever so slightly, and it be a different type of combination all together. Overall, the best thing is how different it is to any other sport.
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