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Jessica Fox in action. Jessica Fox in action. Featured


GOLD at Tokyo for Western Sydney canoe star 
WORLD canoe slalom champion Jessica Fox lived up to her top billing to finally win the elusive gold medal at the 2021 Olympics with a near flawless run in Tokyo.
Fox, 27, captured the inaugural C1 canoe slalom Olympic title through a challenging white-water course, adding to the bronze she won on Wednesday in the K1 class. She had taken silver at the 2012 London Olympics and a bronze at the 2016 Rio Games.
The relief and tears on her face after her terrific run today in very tough conditions showed how much she had worked for this moment. Her father Richard Fox, a multiple world champion himself, was one of the commentators and could not contain his excitement at this historic moment.
“I love you, through the finish and beyond the finish, I was crying too, that was fantastic,” her Dad told Seven News.
“I love you, through the finish and beyond the finish, I was crying too, that was fantastic,” he said.
“I love you, too,” she replied. "I can't wait to show you this (the medal), Dad."
Her mum Myriam Fox, her long-time coach, hugged and kissed her eldest daughter after the amazing victory.
The record-breaking Fox was the fastest qualifier for the final and backed up with a penalty-free run in 105.04 seconds to win the event at the Kasai Canoe Slalom Center.
Great Britain's Mallory Franklin, who had set the early pace, took silver in a time of 108.68, with German's Andrea Herzog taking bronze in 111.13, both with a penalty of two seconds.
Fox, the former Blaxland High School dux had fine-tuned her preparations, competing in Europe.
I have been following her amazing career since the Penrith local burst on the international scene with a bang at the 2010 Singapore Youth Olympics, where she took out the gold medal.
Jessica, who usually trains six days a week at the Penrith Whitewater Centre, made the most of her advantage of training at the Olympic venue.
“It’s very exciting to be heading to a third Olympic Games,” she told the Blacktown News before her departure. “I feel really honoured and proud to represent Australia in Tokyo. 
“Each Olympic experience has been different and I’m more experienced athlete now.
“I think the delay was hard for many athletes and there were advantages and disadvantages to it for me. 
“Not being able to compete overseas and travel for training camps was hard but it’s been positive in many ways too; being able to work on other areas of my technique and get stronger in the gym.”
Australia's Tokyo Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman calls Jessica, “a phenomenal athlete and ambassador for Olympic sport”.
Pedigree from her parents
Jessica's champion pedigree oozes from her Olympian parents Myriam and Richard, who won multiple world titles for France and Great Britain respectively. 
Myriam was a K-1 bronze medallist at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, is her long-time coach. It was her father (Jessica's grandfather) who introduced Jessica to the sport back in Marseilles when she was just three years. 
Myriam is the national coach of Paddle Australia's highly-successful women's canoe slalom program and was named the AIS Sports Performance Coach of the Year in 2018, the same time when Jessica was awarded Female Athlete of the Year.
Richard Fox, a 10-time world champion and former Australian head coach, provides advice to Jessica when needed.
Jessica said having such high-achieving parents was a bit daunting. “Maybe in the beginning, (and) it was why I was reluctant to start paddling,” she recalled. “But once I got into it, I really enjoyed it and loved racing. 
“Once I won my my first junior world title, I thought: ‘well neither of my parents won a junior world so at least I have that on them!’ “
Jessica enjoys training with other coaches and with different athletes from time to time for variety but loves training with her mum.
“I’ve always been coached by my mum and she knows me the best out of anyone,” Jessica said. 
“It’s not for everyone but it’s worked well for us. Dad will give me advice and come to the odd training session; It’s nice to have a different perspective at times.”
What does she think about being the most successful paddler in world championship history with seven golds?
“It’s a special title I never imagined I could ever win... it’s not something I set out to do and I think it’s something I’ll reflect on when I finish competing. For now, I’m not finished!”
“It is a shame we can’t have our family and friends there but hopefully we will feel their energy from home! I think I’m a more experienced athlete, stronger and fitter and have evolved my technique. 
“It’s very special to be competing in C1 in Tokyo and to be part of this group of women and represent those who came before us who have fought for gender equity.”
Jessica rates winning the world championship in 2017 in kayak, after a disappointing race the day before, as among her proudest moments. 
“It took a lot of courage and mental strength to overcome that and performing the way I did to win was very special,” Jessica said. “I also reflect on my 2018 season and I couldn’t have wished for a better year, with multiple World Cup wins and a double gold at the world championships.”
Jessica mixes her vigorous gym training with pilates, and antigravity yoga at Atmosphere Health and Fitness at Penrith.  
Jessica, who had brilliant results in her HSC, including topping the state in one subject, is doing a MBA at Griffith university and B. Social science online. “I think it’s important to have something to fall back on after sport,” she said.
“It’s (studying and training) a juggling act and prioritising my time is important. I learnt that through high school. It gives me a way to switch off from training too which is good at times. 
“I try to structure my days to fit it in around training and ensure I communicate with my lecturers so  I can get extensions for assignments or exams to work around the big competitions.  
“There’s an additional event for Paris 2024 called extreme slalom so I might try a few races in that to give it a go.
It would be hard to transition to another sport and try to be competitive.
“Of course, I’ve had disappointing events but I always try to see disappointments as a way to learn.  
Jessica is an avid dog lover who is fostering a beautiful greyhound named Pink. “It’s been a great experience and rewarding to help a dog in need,” she said.
To chill out she likes to spend time with friends and family, go out for coffee or go for a walk in the bush in the blue mountains. 
“Coming home is always a way to chill out and stay grounded,” she said.


Michael Walls
0407 783 413

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