IN contrast to her all-conquering, undefeated path to Canoe Slalom World Cup series glory in 2018 in women’s K1 (single kayak) and C1 (canoe), Jessica Fox had to find something extra special in the fifth and final round of this year’s series in the Czech Republic last weekend to emerge as champion – and she delivered.
In the K1 competition, Fox was fourth overall in the series coming into Prague – one of the most technical and challenging courses – having won silver and bronze medals but no golds.
But with double points up for grabs in the final round, the 25-year-old dual Olympian medallist lifted when it mattered most, winning gold to overtake her main rivals and successfully defend her world series crown.
The Sydneysider and Maccabi Australia Sportswoman of the Year posted a time of 101.11 seconds in the final, winning by almost three seconds over runner-up Ana Satila from Brazil, and Slovakia’s Eva Tercelj.
She said it felt like she was returning to her best form, after a tough few months battling away in one of the most competitive world cup series ever, less than one year out from the next Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“I’ve been training so well here, so I really wanted to put it together,” Fox said.
“To deliver in the [K1] final, I was so pleased [and] there was elation when I crossed the finish line – it could not have gone better.”
In the C1 final, Fox was coming second in the series, having won gold in round three in Slovenia in June, but needed one more gold in Prague to defend her title.
In a thrilling finish, Fox edged Great Britain’s Kimberley Woods by just 0.04 of a second, despite accruing a two-second penalty to cross the line in 113.95 seconds, and Czech Tereza Fiserova came third.
“It wasn’t the perfect season like last year, but I’ve learnt so much from every race,” Fox said, after literally jumping for joy during the medal presentation.
“The competition in the C1 category is getting better and better, the girls are hungry and improving a lot – it makes me really proud to be in this category.
“There’s been an amazing atmosphere and I’ve really enjoyed racing here.
“That’s what will keep me fresh, happy and hungry to keep training harder.”
Her younger sister Noemie, 22, was bundled out in the K1 heats in Prague, but made her first C1 world cup series final for the season, finishing eighth.
The Fox sisters will finish the 2019 season at the Canoe Slalom World Championships, to be held in Spain from September 25, and will then participate in a test event at the new Olympic course in Tokyo in late October.