The world’s most successful canoe slalom paddler, Jessica Fox, has added another Championship medal to her collection, winning bronze in the Women’s Canoe at the 2023 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships in London on Friday.
Along with her World Championships bronze medal, Fox has secured an Olympic quota place for Australia in the Women’s C1 for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, as one of the top 12 nations in the event.
Fox’s run was the quickest raw time of the 10-paddler Final, however a gate touch at the top of the course added a two second penalty to her time, which saw her secure the bronze, 0.89 seconds behind Great Britain’s Mallory Franklin who won the women’s World title. Franklin’s compatriot Kimberley Woods won silver, 0.42 seconds off the pace.
Wind gusts up to 60km/hr and lashing rain provided a challenging race day for Australia’s C1 athletes in the Heats on Wednesday, and Fox uncharacteristically had to compete in Heat 2 after placing 33rd in Heat 1. However, the C1 Olympic Champion returned to form for the finals on Friday, placing third in the semifinal to secure the Paris 2024 Olympic quota, before her bronze medal run in the afternoon.
“It’s been a pretty crazy World Championship so far,” Fox said. “I didn’t have the best start in the C1 but making that final and getting the Olympic quota spot was the goal, and to come away with a medal is awesome.
“I am a bit frustrated with my touch which kept me off the top step, but it’s still great to come away with another medal.”
The 29-year-old said she felt “quite emotional” securing the quota for her fourth Olympic Games.
“It’s been a big build up and obviously it’s never easy to get a quota and it was super tight racing this morning, so to get that out of the way I was really relieved.”
Returning to the course of her Olympic debut at the Lee Valley Whitewater Centre just out of London, the NSWIS athlete said the Finals course gave her flashbacks to winning silver as an 18-year-old in 2012.
“It’s funny because that bottom move, the down left to the up right, was exactly the same at the Olympics, so I kind of had a flashback to London 2012, but it’s always great to come back to London, I love this course,” she said.
“The weather has been challenging but it’s a beautiful day today, so it’s been a pleasure to race and the crowd is awesome. I have some family here cheering me on and cheering the Aussies on, so the support has been amazing and it’s been great to race again.”
Fox will now turn her attention to the K1 finals on Saturday, where Australia has five athletes competing. Tasmania’s Kate Eckhardt, who won Kayak Team gold alongside Jess and sister Noemie Fox on Tuesday, has also qualified for the WK1 semifinal.
Australia will have three Men’s K1 paddlers fighting for medals and a Paris 2024 Olympic quota spot on Saturday, with Tim Anderson recording the fifth fastest time from 101 athletes in Wednesday’s Heat 1. He will be joined by dual Olympian Lucien Delfour and Western Australia’s Ben Pope in the semi. It all gets underway from 10am local time (6pm AEST) on Saturday, with finals from 1.30pm local time (10.35pm AEST).