Barely able to stand, still reeling from being physically ill just moments before, Jessica Fox lowered herself into her kayak just after noon on Saturday, not at all certain she was feeling strong enough or even clear-headed enough to reach the bottom of one of the world’s most challenging slalom courses.

Just over 90 seconds later the Australian peeled herself from her boat, putting on a brave face for the television cameras. But as soon as the glare of the camera left her, she had to sit down. She asked to be told when she needed to stand up for the live television feed.

Fox famously told how she had vomited just before her gold-medal winning race at the Tokyo Olympics last year. But that was nerves; Saturday, she knew, was more than nerves.

28-year-old Fox sat on the concrete slab as the final two paddlers came down the Tacen course. When first the Austrian Corinna Kuhnle failed to better Fox’s time, and then Great Britain’s Mallory Franklin also fell short, the three-time K1 world champion had pulled off an extraordinary victory.

She had, of course, had bigger victories in her life. But the tears that welled in her eyes told the story; this was a victory against the odds.

“Today’s been a bit emotional because it’s been a real mental battle, I was feeling really ill this morning and vomiting, so to actually make the final and then pull it out in the final and keep pushing to the finish, I’m so proud of that run, I can’t quite believe I won today, so it’s very special” Fox said.

It wasn’t anywhere near the best run Jess Fox has ever put together to win a gold medal. But such is her form this year, especially in K1, that just the knowledge she is in a final is enough to add an extra second to the runs of most other athletes.

Fox is unbeaten in the kayak at three world cups in 2022. Tacen is a special course for the Australian. She created history in 2013 when she became the first athlete to win both K1 and C1 gold at the same event, and in 1989 her father, Richard, won K1 gold for Great Britain at the very first world cup held on the course.

“It’s one of my favourite courses I think, it’s really enjoyable when you’re on line you can get so much natural speed,” Fox said.

“It’s a very unique course to race on, I’ve enjoyed being here every time, so it’s special to come back.”

For two of the K1 world cup finals this season Olympic champion Ricarda Funk has been absent. It sets the scene for a cracking world championship showdown on Funk’s home course of Augsburg next month.

Pics by Balint Vekassy

Australia Jess Fox Tacen 2022 K1

Canoe Slalom
#ICFcanoeslalom #Canoeslalom