British canoeing medal hope dissolves in tears after massive error in Olympic final

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Great Britain's Kimberley Woods appears dejected after the Women's Kayak Final at the Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre on the fourth day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan. Picture date: Tuesday July 27, 2021. (Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)
Great Britain's Kimberley Woods is consoled by GB team-mates after the women's K1 slalom final. (PA Images via Getty Images)

British canoeist Kimberley Woods was left distraught after missing a full gate and racking up a 50-point penalty as she bid for a medal in her first Olympic Games.

The 25-year-old from Rugby, Warwickshire, had reached the K-1 slalom final in sixth position but was left her in tears at the end as she realised the significance of her costly mistake.

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Woods, a three-time world champion in her sport, had previously spoken publicly about her childhood where she was bullied and experienced low self-esteem, depression and self-harming.

Canoeing has been her outlet and in Tokyo she admitted that she “had a bit of an emotional time” after producing a fine run to qualify for Tuesday’s final.

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After being consoled by team-mates at the water’s edge, she spoke to Eurosport about the challenges she has faced off the water.

“I’ve struggled with mental health, I’ve been bullied at school, just getting to the Olympic Games was such a big achievement with what everyone has been going through this past year,” Woods said.

“I had a bit of an emotional time thinking that I’m in the Olympic final, but it wasn’t for me today and I’m sure whoever wins today will be well deserving.”

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Asked how anyone watching can deal with depression, she added: “I think just try and keep open and honest with yourself."

After her final run, she said that she still had time on her side after tasting her first Olympics, but admitted that she been hampered by a pressure to deliver.

"Obviously, some of it did,” she said. “I can't lie and say there was no pressure at all, I felt it. But I tried to absorb that at the start, I felt in good shape and confident.

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 27: Kimberley Woods of Team Great Britain during the Women's Slalom Kayak K-1 Final on Day 4 of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre on July 27, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Pete Dovgan/Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Kimberley Woods missed a crucial gate in the Olympic final in Tokyo. (Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

"It is just tiny mistakes and the thoughts of people back home were coming in and it felt apart for me."

I am a paddler that goes all and I did not want to leave anything out there.

"An early penalty proved it and we could not get back into the rhythm of things."

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