Australia strike gold at Canoe Slalom World Championships

Jessica Fox OAM has won her tenth individual Canoe Slalom World title, winning Gold in the Women’s K1 at the Lee Valley Whitewater Centre in London on Saturday night (Australian time), following a bronze medal in the C1W on Friday.

Australia collectively finished with four gold medals from two events, with Jess having partnered with sister Noemie and Tasmanian Kate Eckhardt earlier in the week to record an historic win for Australia in the Women’s Kayak Team’s event.

The K1 win was Jess’ 10th individual World title, and fourth K1 World Championships gold, last winning the Kayak crown back in 2018. This year’s success was a flashback to 2012, where she won the K1W Silver medal in her Olympic debut – also on the London course.

The K1 win was not without drama, with Jess recording the fastest semi final time by over a second on Saturday morning, then receiving a two-second penalty for touching Gate 1 in the 10-paddler Final. However, her incredible run saw the four-time Olympic medallist
still secure the gold medal, ahead of Eliska Mintalova (Slovakia) in second, and Klaudia Kwolinska (Poland) third.

“My goodness, it was a crazy race and I just can’t believe I’ve won today, it’s amazing, I am overwhelmed and so emotional,” Jess said.

“I didn’t start well, I hit Gate 1 and just tried to really put the hammer down and keep it clean and keep it tidy. Even to the last gate, I was taking risks and trying to squeeze out time, just sprinting head down to the finish, not knowing if it would be enough, but to see I was one second ahead, I was thrilled.

“To win a fourth K1 World title and my 10th individual World title, I feel really proud of that.

“This World Championships was really important to get the quota to go to the Olympics and it was also part of our selection process as well. Obviously, the work’s not done yet, but to have qualified the quota and ticked off a few boxes for the criteria, I can start to plan towards Paris.”

Along with her World Championships bronze medal, Jessica secured an Olympic quota place for Australia in the Women’s C1 for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, as one of the top 12 nations in the event.

As with her Kayak run, Jessica’s C1W run was the quickest raw time of the 10-paddler final, however a gate touch at the top of the course added a two second penalty to her time, which saw her finish with the bronze medal, just 0.89 seconds behind Great Britain’s pairing of Mallory Franklin with Gold and Kimberley Woods with Silver.

Action from the 2023 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships in London.  Photos courtesy of Kim Jones / Paddle Australia.

“It’s been a pretty crazy World Championship so far,” Jess said after the C1W. “I didn’t have the best start in the C1 but making that final and getting the Olympic quota spot was the goal, and to come away with a medal is awesome.

“I am a bit frustrated with my touch, which kept me off the top step, but it’s still great to come away with another medal.”

The 29-year-old said she felt “quite emotional” securing the quota for her fourth Olympic Games.

“It’s been a big build up and obviously it’s never easy to get a quota and it was super tight racing this morning, so to get that out of the way I was really relieved.”

Returning to the course of her Olympic debut at the Lee Valley Whitewater Centre just out of London, the NSWIS athlete said the finals course gave her flashbacks to winning silver as an 18-year-old in 2012.

“It’s funny because that bottom move, the down left to the up right, was exactly the same at the Olympics, so I kind of had a flashback to London 2012, but it’s always great to come back to London, I love this course,” she said.

“The weather has been challenging but it’s a beautiful day today, so it’s been a pleasure to race and the crowd is awesome. I have some family here cheering me on and cheering the Aussies on, so the support has been amazing and it’s been great to race again.”

Fellow Australian Tim Anderson also put the slalom world on notice in the Men’s K1, finishing in 5th place in his first World Championships Final and securing Australia a start in the Men’s K1 at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Anderson qualified 5th-fastest from 101 starters in the K1 heats on Thursday, placed 6th in the semi-finals, and had a near faultless run to finish in fifth place; his best ever K1 international result.

Anderson said he was thrilled with his individual race and to have secured Australia a quota for next year’s Olympics.

“It’s awesome, I can’t believe I am standing here having just placed fifth in the final, it’s an amazing achievement, I am just stoked,” Anderson said.

“The quality today was incredible. After I did a really good run, everyone else after me was also really good.
So it’s nice to know I did a good run, but everyone was really on it today.

“It’s pretty huge [to secure the quota], we always pride ourselves on being at every Olympics and competing hard, so it’s nice to know Australia will be there again come Paris next year,” he said.