ICFmedia
29 September 2018

No-one has won more world titles than Jess Fox. And she's only just begun

While she would still rather an Olympic gold medal, for the meantime Australia’s Jessica Fox is happy to carry the title of the most successful individual canoe slalom paddler in the history of the sport.

She slipped into that position on an overcast Saturday morning at the Deodoro whitewater stadium in Rio, ducking and diving her way down a difficult and tiring K1 course in a time more than two seconds quicker than the next best athlete.

Which is hardly surprising. Four of the six world titles Fox has won across both K1 and C1, she has won by four seconds or more. In a sport where medallists can be decided by tenths of a second, the domination by 24-year-old Fox is breathtaking.

Her six individual world titles kicks her clear of a crowded leaderboard, which included father Richard with five titles. Jessica Fox has the obvious advantage of racing both K1 and C1, and has won three of each.

Fox is a very focussed athlete, very much about getting the processes right. So it’s maybe not surprising her immediate reaction to becoming the world’s most successful individual paddler ever is somewhat low-key.

“I can’t say I look at the statistics or read any of the articles,” Fox said.

“I’m just here to do what I love to do and race and enjoy myself on the water, and hope that with that, my best paddling comes.

“Six world titles, what can I say? I hope it’s not the end of my journey, I’m feeling like I’m at my best and hopefully I can keep going that way.”

So we push a bit harder. Turns out she’s happier that she managed to put down a good K1 run at the home of the 2016 Olympics.

Fox left Rio two years ago deflated, not because she won a bronze medal, but because she had raced well below her best. It’s a heavy burden to carry, knowing that whenever you compete at your best, you’re unlikely to be beaten.

In France 12 months after Rio, Fox was churning out one of her best K1 runs of her career, which likely added to the frustration. On Saturday she not only defended that world title, but exorcised any remaining demons from her Rio Olympics.

“Last year my Pau race was one of my best races ever, it is probably hard to top that,” she said.

“I think with Rio, I had a bit of unfinished business after the Olympics. I left a bit frustrated with my paddling.

“I just wanted to come here and be free, and really unleash in that final, and I think I did that. So I couldn’t be happier. I’m loving this sport, I’m enjoying myself, and I think that’s the most important thing – to love what you do.

“These world titles have all been so special, and today is extra special.”

On Sunday Fox has a big chance to bring up another World Championship double, when she competes in the final of the women’s C1. She’s unbeaten in the discipline this year, and the tough Rio course is likely to bring many of her opponents undone.

That would give her seven individual world titles, and eight titles overall when you add team golds. That takes her past her mother, Myriam, as the most successful female athlete of all time.

Maybe then Jessica Fox will be able to relax, and allow the enormity of the occasion to wash over her. But maybe not.

And don’t worry about motivation. For as long as that Olympic gold medal eludes her, Fox will keep putting in the hard yards.

 “To know that I have so much more to learn, and that it’s not over yet. That’s what motivates me,” she said.

“Our sport keeps evolving, and the girls are getting better all the time.

“Olympic gold, that’s the dream. But one day at a time, one race at a time.”

2018 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships Rio Brazil Jessica Fox AUS

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