Dramatic bronze has Fox looking to Tokyo

Published 12 August 2016 (AEDT)

Bronze medallist Jessica Fox celebrates on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Women's Kayak (K1). © 2016 Getty Images

CANOE-SLALOM: Jessica Fox put it all on line in the final of the women’s slalom at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and was rewarded with the bronze medal.

It was not the colour she was chasing but she was proud to be on the podium at a second consecutive Games after some anxious moments.

Fox qualified for the final in fifth place with a conservative run in the semi-final and then produced a superb final run to move into the gold medal position. But even before the next paddler could race the course she dropped down to the silver position following a late two-second penalty. Then with four more paddlers to go it was an anxious wait.

“I’ve been through all the emotions today,” Fox said. “Finishing that run I was thrilled to put down that run and obviously it wasn’t perfect but I went into the lead which was fantastic.

“And then the asterix came up and a late penalty was added and my heart sank because I didn’t know if that would be good enough for a podium, so I just played the waiting game again. And yes, it was good enough for the bronze.

“It is fantastic to be on that podium again.”

In the windy conditions and in front of a screaming crowd full of Australians she had a slight touch on the third-last gate at the bottom of the course.

When she crossed the line in a time of 100.49 seconds she was ecstatic to see her name at the top of the leaderboard. Fox had passed Luuka Jones from New Zealand who had been leading by over five seconds.

But the joy only lasted a few minutes. When the asterix went up again, her name and then the two-second penalty, was enough to more her to second with four paddlers to go.

She survived the best attempt by the reigning world champion but not the scorching clean run from Spain’s Maialen Chourraut. The London 2012 bronze medallist’s time of 98.65sec was too good and claimed the gold.

Fox was full of praise for her competitors and happy for Chourraut who she often trains with.

“I’m thrilled for her,” Fox said. “I don’t think I rivalled her today but she was incredible and she has always been one of my paddling idols. So I’m happy for her and so happy to be on the podium with her and thrilled for Luuka Jones from New Zealand to keep that fantastic Oceania representation."

Fox's Rio bronze follows the silver she won in London four years ago and, while processing what had just happened at the Whitewater Stadium in Deodoro, she vowed to try and complete the full set of medals at Tokyo 2020.

“The only one missing is the gold medal now. I’m more motivated than ever. And I am the fittest I’ve ever been and I was paddling well.

"So it’s encouraging; it’s motivating. I think four years is a long time but a lot has happened since London so I’m looking forward to the journey ahead.”

Fox is also the three-time world champion in the C1 canoe event which as been added to the program for Tokyo.2020.

Her parents are both Olympians. Her father Richard competed for Great Britain in the K1 at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, finishing fourth and was a five-time world champion. He has been head coach and section manager for the Australian canoe/kayak team. Her mother, Myriam, competed for France at the 1992 Barcelona and 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, winning bronze in Atlanta in the K1.

And her younger sister Noemie is also a talented paddler with Olympic aspirations.

Jessica is now Australia’s most successful Olympic slalom paddler with her bronze and silver medals.

In 1992 Danielle Woodward won Australia’s first Olympic medal a silver in 1992. Woodward was in the stands today with many Australian Olympic legends to cheer on Fox.

Andrew Reid

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