Fox named NSW’s best athlete

NSW Minister for Sport Stuart Ayres presenting canoe slalom champion Jessica Fox with the Athlete of the Year award.

TWO-TIME canoe slalom Olympic Games medallist Jessica Fox was named Athlete of the Year at the inaugural NSW Champions of Sport Awards in Sydney on November 27, capping off another highly successful year on the rapids.

The 23-year-old Jewish paddling superstar – who attended the awards presentation with her mother and coach Myriam Jerusalmi – edged a quality field of seven shortlisted finalists including champion Australian women’s cricketer Ellyse Perry, Olympian discus thrower Dani Stevens and world champion diver Rhiannan Iffland.

The prestigious honour came just a month after Fox was crowned Australian Canoeing’s best athlete for 2017 and eight months after she was awarded the Maccabi Australia Jewish Sportswoman of the Year for the fourth time in a row.

Her individual achievements list this year includes winning the women’s Australian Open, the women’s K1 (single kayak) World Championships held in France, the women’s C1 (single canoe) World Cup Series, finishing runner-up in the women’s K1 World Cup Series and, in her last U23 World Championships appearance, winning gold in the women’s K1.

She also won two world championship teams medals – a silver in the women’s C1 with her younger sister Noemie and Roz Lawrence, and a bronze in the women’s K1 with Lawrence and teammate Kate Eckhardt.

Fox told The AJN she feels both “excited and honoured” to receive the award.

“It was an amazing list of finalists – and the majority women!” Fox said.

“And there were such great results for Australian athletes this year, so I was very humbled to win.

“It has been amazing to see the sport [canoe slalom] grow in C1 especially, and the standard on the women’s side is getting higher as we get closer to Tokyo 2020, now that it is an Olympic event [too].”

“Every year is really valuable racing experience and we are using video analysis a lot, trying to get stronger in the gym and on the water, and working on technical skills to match the men’s techniques.”

NSW Minister for Sport Stuart Ayres described Fox as “an exceptional young role model for all athletes” who emerged the winner from “an outstanding array of finalists” – six out of seven being women.

Fox remains in the running, as a finalist, for best female athlete in the 2017 Australian Institute of Sport Performance Awards, which will be presented on December 12.

Finalists include Matildas star Sam Kerr, Olympian hurdler Sally Pearson and Olympian moguls skier Britteny Cox.

SHANE DESIATNIK