Junior and U23 paddlers on the rise

Today’s post looks at the recent ICF Junior & U23 World Championships as well as previous results to see what this can tell us about future Olympics medallists.

I wrote the following Most Promising Paddler Award post on August 2, 2012.

“I suggested that it was not a question on whether Australia’s young 18-year-old Junior World Champion would win a medal, only at which Olympics and what colour. For her to win a silver medal this afternoon at Lee Valley during London2012 is truly mind blowing. She won the Junior World Championship only last month in Wausau, USA.

For those in the sport, the name Fox is possibly the best known. Her father Richard was the 5-time World K1M individual champion between 1981 and 1993 (11 medals in total). I was blessed today to sit beside, Roger, Jessica’s grandfather to witness Jessica’s silver medal in K1W. Jessica is coached by her mother, Miriam Jerusalmi-Fox who also won two World Championships (10 medals in total). 

So it only begs the question what we should expect from Fox in the Senior World Championships, Rio Olympics in 2016 and beyond? Richard inspired so many of us to take up canoe slalom it is truly special to see the legacy continue with a role model for a new generation.”

 ICF Planet Canoe #ICFslalom Balint Vekassy @gregiej Rio2016 Canoe Slalom

Fox won both the U23 and senior World Championship title in 2014, senior title again in Lee Valley in 2015. Incidentally, she is three-times C1W World Champion. So I asked Fox how she feels now versus the 18-year-old Jess before London.

“I feel more experienced, 4 years older… 4 years wiser! There’s obviously more expectation but I feel more prepared for these Olympics. The process is the same and I want to enjoy this experience”


10,000 hours

A great illustration of the benefits of starting young and assimilating 10,000 hours is 3-time Olympic Champion Tony Estanguet who starting to paddle at the age of 5. By age 16, Michal Martikan from Liptovsky Mikulas in Slovakia won his first bronze medal at the Nottingham World’s in 1995, followed by his first Olympic title a year later in Atlanta.


Junior / U23 paddlers on the rise

Four paddlers from July’s 2016 ICF Junior & U23 World Championships in Krakow, Poland are among the athletes competing at Deodoro. They are Jessica Fox (AUS), Jiri Prskavec (CZE:K1M), Jakub Grigar (SVK) and 17-year-old Hind Jamili (MAR).

Jiri Prskavec is the reigning senior World Champion and very capable of an Olympic medal. Jakub Grigar is having an incredible season to be ranked 19th in the World. 20-year-old Ana Satila (BRA:K1W) won the 2014 Junior World Championship. She is having an incredible 2016 season. She is currently 4th in the 2016 ICF World Cup series. The impact of racing on her home course in Brazil cannot be underestimated.

ICF Planet Canoe #ICFslalom Balint Vekassy @gregiej Rio2016 Canoe Slalom

Ana’s team-mate Pedro Goncalves had this to say in describing her; “Ana is a special girl, has the gift of paddling and along with the strength training combined at an early age like a champion. I am sure the result in the games will be the best and want to be there to see it shining!”


ICF Junior & U23 World Championship results of Rio athletes

U23 K1M

  • 2016 Jakub Grigar (SVK) – Krakow, Poland
  • 2015 Jiri Prskavec (CZE) – Foz de Iguazu, Brazil
  • 2014 Michal Smolen (USA) – Penrith, Australia
  • 2012 Jiri Prskavec (CZE) – Wausau, USA

U23 K1W

  • 2016 Jess Fox (AUS) – Krakow, Poland
  • 2015 Jess Fox (AUS) - Foz de Iguazu, Brazil
  • 2014 Jess Fox (AUS) – Penrith, Australia
  • 2013 Katerina Kudejova (CZE) – Liptovsky Mikulas, Slovakia
  • 2012 Katerina Kudejova (CZE) – Liptovsky Mikulas, Slovakia

U23 C2M

  • 2014 Jonas Kaspar & Marek Sindler (CZE) – Penrith, Australia

Junior C1M

  • 2008 Sideris Tasiadis (GER) – Roundnice, Czech Republic

Junior K1M

  • 2015 Jakub Grigar (SVK) – Foz de Iguaza, Brazil
  • 2014 Mario Leitner (AUT) – Penrith, Australia
  • 2013 Jakub Grigar (SVK) – Liptovsky Mikulas, Czech Republic
  • 2010 Giovanni de Gennaro (ITA) – Foix, France

Junior K1W

  • 2014 Ana Satila (BRA) – Penrith, Australia
  • 2012 Jess Fox (AUS) – Wausau, USA
  • 2010 Jess Fox (AUS) – Foix, France
  • 2006 Ursa Kragelj (SLO) – Solkan, Slovenia

Several other paddlers among those racing in Rio; Melanie Pfeifer (GER), Maciej Okreglak (POL), Luka Bozic (SLO) & Hannes Aigner (GER) have been Junior or U23 Team Champions.


Pattern of future Olympic canoe slalom medallists

There is a clear pattern with the Junior World Championships and those that became Olympic canoe slalom medallists:

  • Gareth Marriott (GBR:C1M) won in 1988
  • Kryzysztof Kolomanski & Michal Staniszewski (POL:C2M) in 1990
  • Michal Martikan (SVK:C1M) in 1994
  • Helen Reeves (GBR:K1W) in 1996
  • Ondrej Stepanek & Jaroslav Volf (CZE:C2M) in 1996
  • Marcus Becker & Stefan Henze (GER:C2M)
  • Alexander Grimm (GER:K1M) in 2004
  • Sideris Tasiadis (GER:C1M) in 2008
  • Jess Fox (AUS:K1W) in 2010 & 2012


2020 & 2024 Olympics

This suggests that the current Junior World athletes are those from whom to expect Olympic medals in 5-10 years, so Tokyo in 2020, and then in either Rome, Paris, Budapest or Los Angeles in 2024.

Look out for the following winners from this year’s Junior World’s: Marko Mirgorodsky (SVK:C1M), Ruslan Pestov (UKR:K1M),Tereza Fiserova (CZE:C1W), Klaudia Zwolinska (POL:K1W) and Albert Kapar & Voitech Mruzek (CZE:C2M).


Keep tuning in

Tomorrow’s post will examine the importance of the mental preparation in canoe slalom. It includes an interview with Jonathan Males, author of In the Flow.

Check back on August 12 to see to whom I award this 2016 most promising paddler award.

We welcome your interaction. Remember to use hashtag #ICFslalom across all social media. Please comment through @PlanetCanoe on Twitter

Latest posts

ICF Planet Canoe #ICFslalom Balint Vekassy @gregiej Rio2016 Canoe Slalom

John Gregory
26 September 2016
ICF Planet Canoe #ICFslalom Balint Vekassy @gregiej Rio2016 Canoe Slalom

John Gregory
15 August 2016
ICF Planet Canoe #ICFslalom Balint Vekassy @gregiej Rio2016 Canoe Slalom

John Gregory
14 August 2016


Subscribe to: Blog posts RSS
Rio 2016 Blog
Balint Vekassy
Pedro Goncalves
Jess Fox
Ana Satila
Jakub Grigar
Hind Jamili