The 2023 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships came to a close on Sunday, ending six days of exceptional Canoe Slalom action for Australia’s nine-paddler team.
Australia finished the Championships second on the medal table with three medals, seven top-10 performances, and a spot on the start line of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games in the Women’s Canoe, Women’s Kayak and Men’s Kayak.
The Kayak Cross was the last event on the program on Sunday, with Noemie Fox and Lucien Delfour the two Aussies to progress out of the time trials into the 30-paddler heats.
Fox placed second in her heat and first in her quarterfinal to get a semi final berth. Great Britain’s Kimberly Woods – the eventual gold medallist – and France’s Emma Vuitton took an early lead in the semi to secure the two final spots, with Noemie crossing the line in fourth, just behind Spain’s Camille Prigent.
While placing 8th at the World Championships is a remarkable feat, Fox said she was hungry for a start in that final race
“You’ve got to take every stage as it comes, and really be prepared to fight and give it your best. I went through the heats and finished first which was a great feeling, and same thing in the quarterfinals, but the race really continues and you’re not satisfied at all, you’re just hungry to get into that final,” she said.
“Today, I feel a bit disappointed to not have accessed that final and to get stuck in my semi at the back, but tomorrow I’ll be super proud of what I’ve accomplished at this World Championships.
“To be able to race today and climb my way up to eighth in the world, I’m definitely proud of that.
“This event is a really big challenge of adaptation and focus and one that we’re still learning, but I’ve been incredibly supported all week and especially today from my two coaches Myriam and Jullian, also our team psych Chris and the whole broader team.”
Delfour was second in his heat, and crossed the line in second in his quarterfinal, but a late penalty on the final gate relegated Delfour to fourth place, bringing an end to his Kayak Cross run in 13th place.
In the earlier time trials, Jess Fox placed 31st and Kate Eckhardt 38th in the women’s event. Tim Anderson placed 28th in the men’s time trial, with Tristan Carter 33rd and Brodie Crawford 52nd of the 100 starters.
Paddle Australia National High Performance Director Kim Crane said she was extremely proud of the whole Australian team for their efforts and performances in London this week.
“We are ecstatic with the results here, as the main objective was to secure as many Olympic quota spots as possible and we have three of those now signed and sealed. That is an enormous relief and sets us up well to confirm final plans for Paris 2024,” Crane said.
“Our Oceania Continental Qualification event in January will hopefully provide us another opportunity to qualify the C1 Men’s quota, and then with the recent announcement of additional funding for Kayak Cross from the Federal Government, we have an opportunity to chase the Kayak Cross quota in June in Prague.
“World Championships before an Olympic year are ruthless for all competing nations; you are watching Olympic selection play out in front of your eyes – the pressure is evident for everyone, and our athletes, coaches and support staff rose to the occasion.
“Our entire team put their hearts and souls on the line and we are incredibly proud of their results. Second on the medal tally is an outstanding achievement and proves we’re one of the strongest nations in the world in our sport. The Women’s Kayak Team gold medal set the team vibe up so well on Day 1, and then Jess’s phenomenal gold and bronze was sporting history in the making. We are so happy for Tim Anderson for his 5th place in the MK1 final; our best result in this event since 2014. Lucien and Noemie put it all on the line in Kayak Cross and that was such exciting racing to watch.
“A successful World Championships cannot be done without the support of the National High Performance Sport System so we thank all of our partners; we know they too are proud of our performance here.”
The Australian Canoe Slalom team will now head to Paris for the final event of the international season, the World Cup Final from 5-8 October. The event will double as the Test Event for next years’ Olympic Games.