Nine months out from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Paddle Australia has travelled to Tokyo with four canoe slalom paddlers to test the waters after the Tokyo 2020 canoe slalom venue opened its doors for the first test events.
World #1 and Olympic medal hopeful Jessica Fox, sister Noemie Fox, Rio Olympian Lucien Delfour as well as Daniel Watkins are making the most of their time in Tokyo and are exploring Tokyo on and off the water. The team will be training in Tokyo for two weeks after arriving in Japan last weekend.
It is the first time for Australia’s canoe slalom paddlers to have the chance to test the Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre, which will host next year’s Olympic canoe slalom competition.
Lucien Delfour & Dan Watkins with Mt Fuji in the background
“The course is smaller than expected, not to say tricky. The water isn’t big, but hard to read and use and it’s quite physical overall,” Lucien Delfour said about the course.
It is the first time for Delfour in Japan and he is excited about the opportunity.
“We haven’t seen much of Tokyo yet, but so far I love the vibe, the order and cleanliness of the city. There are lots of parks where we are, and we can just cycle everywhere and there’s a great sense of serenity,” Delfour described his first impressions.
Paddlers from 28 countries have made the journey to Tokyo, with the slalom venue also attracting interest beyond the paddling world.
On Thursday, Paddle Australia’s canoe slalom athletes welcomed high profile visitors at Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre with Australia’s Governor General His Excellencies General the Honourable David Hurley and Mrs Hurley visiting the team.
The “Ready Steady Tokyo” event, organised by Tokyo 2020, is part of the test events program and the first opportunity for the canoe slalom world to familiarise themselves with the field of play at the Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre after the venue was officially inaugurated in July.
Lucien Delfour and Noemie Fox will be the only two paddlers contesting the ‘Ready Steady Tokyo – Canoe Slalom’ racing this weekend (25-27 October 2019), with both Jessica Fox and Daniel Watkins joining the team for training.
“I’m excited to be back in Japan and discover Tokyo and the course and get back to training. It’s great to have the opportunity and try the course, the features and see what it’s like. The aim of this trip is to get our bearings on the course and in Tokyo” Jessica Fox explained.
Jessica Fox recently wrapped up another stellar season winning both the K1 and C1 world cup and finishing the world cup final with two gold medals. Fox also took home two silver medals from the 2019 canoe slalom world championships at the end of September and secured Australia the Tokyo 2020 quota spot. As a consequence, Fox will be able to contest both the K1 and C1 at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games with the C1 added to the Olympic program for the first time.
Jessica Fox’s world cup and world championships result earned her early pre-nomination for Tokyo 2020 and pending selection by the Australian Olympic Committee over the next couple of months, she will be representing Australia in both the K1 and C1.
“For me the goal was to qualify for Tokyo this year and to try and get the pre-nomination. It’s all unofficial I guess, but I’m really happy and really pleased to have put down a performance to earn that spot,” Fox said.
Australia also secured the men’s K1 quota spot at the 2019 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships in La Seu, Spain, at the end of September after Lucien Delfour finished eighth in the men’s K1.
While Fox secured herself pre-nomination within the team, the fight for nomination and selection is still open on the men’s team and the men’s C1 quota spot is yet to be secured.
The next and final opportunity for Australia to secure an Olympic C1 quota spot will be at the ICF Canoe Slalom Oceania Championships in Auckland at the start of February (1-3 February 2019) with final selections in both the men’s K1 and C1 events to be finalised following the Australia Open in Penrith at the end of February.
Racing at Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre starts today, Friday, 25 October. Noemie Fox and Lucien Delfour will join the action on Saturday in the heats of the women’s C1 and men’s K1 with semi-finals and finals wrapping up the event on Sunday.
Following the racing over the weekend, the team will stay on for another week for training.
The test event can be followed live via live streaming & VOD here: https://www.canoeicf.com/canoe-slalom-olympic-test-event/tokyo-2019
Ready Steady Tokyo Test Event — Schedule
Friday, 25 October 2019
Heats Group-1（MC1, WK1）
Saturday, 26 October 2019
Heats Group-2（WC1, MK1）
9:15～ WC1-Heats-1st run
9:52～ MK1-Heats-1st run
12:00～ WC1-Heats-2nd run
12:37～ MK1-Heats-2nd run
Follow wC1 & mK1 heats here:
Sunday, 27 October 2019
Group-2 Finals & Medals
16:15～ Medal Ceremony（All events）
Follow wC1 & mK1 semis & finals live: