Motherwell canoeist Deborah Kerr full of emotion after sealing qualification

Motherwell ace Deborah Kerr had to navigate her way through some choppy canoeing waters to finally book her place at Tokyo 2020.

Deborah Kerr at a Tokyo 2020 Team GB kitting-out session in Birmingham (Photo by Karl Bridgeman/Getty Images for British Olympic Association)

Kerr, 23, of Brogan Crescent, will compete in the women’s K1 500m in Tokyo, having been officially selected in Team GB’s canoe sprint squad last Wednesday.

She narrowly missed out on Rio qualification five years ago and cut an emotional figure after booking her place on the plane this time round.

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Kerr said: “I think I am a different athlete now.

Deborah Kerr in action (Pic by Antony Edmonds)

“People always said I was mature for my age but not in athlete terms.

“I was naive to just expect to get the games. The level is so high and it is such a hard sport to qualify in, regardless of age.

“I think it brought me back down to reality, not qualifying for Rio, and made me understand how hard I would have to work to achieve my dreams.

“It is nice to look back on 18-year-old Debs and think ‘you went through it but you have come out the other side a better and smarter athlete’.

“It was really emotional when I realised I had done enough. It was the culmination of so much.

“You don’t think about the ten years I had worked for until that moment.

“I had a moment to let it all out, which was really nice.”

When lockdown hit last year, Kerr headed home with an eye still firmly set on working towards qualifying for the Games.

And Kerr, whose exploits in Tokyo will be broadcast live on Eurosport and Discovery+, added: “To be able to go back home from my flat to my parents’ with a garden and a garage, I could put the kayak machine in and it was quite luxurious compared to what I had before.

“I had some perspective on why I was really doing it.

“Seeing my parents and my brother was great. They are the people I am doing this for, so it was a huge motivation.

“I was trudging out on Christmas Eve into a foot of snow to go to the garage and train.

“Looking back on that now, I realise how it was all worth it.

“I see my world cup bronze medal every night before I go to bed and that gives me huge confidence.

“Everyone will have improved over the past three months, but so will I.”