23 Septembre 2019

When the final analysis of this week’s ICF canoe slalom world championships in Spain is completed, it’s highly likely the women’s C1 will end up with an F.

We’re talking Fox, Franklin or Fiserova – three of the biggest names in the discipline, and the trio most likely in this week’s big clash in La Seu. And Fox and Franklin, just eight days separating them in age, are the pair everyone will be watching the closest.

The women’s C1 will feature many of the women who fought so hard to have canoe added to the Olympic program. Leading the charge was a teenage Jessica Fox, who is now 25 and has four women’s C1 world titles to her name.

One year ago the question wasn’t who would win gold when C1 made its Olympic debut in 2020, but rather who would win silver and bronze behind Fox. This came off the back of an incredible 2018 season, when the Australian was unbeaten in the discipline.

But 12 months on, the race for Tokyo gold is much closer. Sure, Fox enjoyed another good season, picking up two world cup wins and finishing overall C1 champion. But she also finished third on two occasions, and didn’t even make the final in Bratislava.

Which proves Fox, already an Olympic K1 silver and bronze medalist, is not unbeatable. But to be sure, to beat the Australian, one would need to be at their very, very best.

Great Britain’s Mallory Franklin is the only other athlete to have won a women’s C1 world title in the past five years. Her breakthrough came in 2017 in Pau, and she followed up with silver behind Fox in Rio last year. She also won silver in 2013 and 2014 behind Fox.

Like Fox, Franklin is doubling up in the K1 and won gold in both, ahead of the Australian, at this season’s world cup opener at Lee Valley. It was a Fox-like performance, confirming the 25-year-old is a genuine contender for double gold in Tokyo.

Her teammate, Kimberley Woods, reminded everyone of her credentials as a C1 paddler with an incredibly tight silver medal in Prague two weeks ago, finishing just 0.04 of a second behind Fox. An added incentive for Woods is she needs to finish ahead of teammate Franklin to keep her Olympic C1 dream alive.

The Czech Republic’s Tereza Fiserova is still just 21-years-old, and is an incredibly consistent paddler. She finished second overall this season, but is yet to taste glory at a senior level.

And then there’s the outrageously talented pairing of Austria’s Nadine Weratschnig and Brazil’s Ana Satila. The canoeing world is impatiently waiting for the day when both of these lightning-fast athletes show what they are truly capable of.

1992 was one of the biggest years in the history of canoe slalom. It’s when the sport made its return to the Olympic Games after a 20-year absence, and it all happened in La Seu.

This week, more than 70 athletes from all over the world will be trying to earn their country a place in Tokyo next year when women’s C1 will make its Games debut. Its somewhat fitting that it will all happen at the venue where slalom returned from the Olympic wilderness 27 years ago.

Australia Jessica Fox C1 Prague world cup 2019

Canoe Slalom
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