CANOE SLALOM: Australia’s Jessica Fox won her sixth individual canoe slalom title, successfully defended her 2017 K1 world crown and became the most successful individual paddler in the history of the sport at the 2018 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships in Rio.
Fox qualified sixth fastest for the K1 final and watched on as the top five qualifiers all failed to top her 102.06 – a time more than two seconds quicker than the next best athlete.
Four of the six world titles Fox has won across both K1 and C1, were all won by four seconds or more, reflecting the domination by the 24-year old in a sport where medallists can be decided by tenths of a second.
Her six individual world titles kicked her clear of a crowded leaderboard, which included father Richard with five individual titles for Great Britain.
Jess Fox had the obvious advantage of racing both K1 and C1, and has won three of each.
She said her win was some compensation for the disappointment of finishing third at the Rio Olympics
“I’m quite emotional and shocked,” she said.
“I had a great run until I got to the bottom section and then it almost fell apart. I’m just so happy I was able to hold it together and escape what could have been a terrible mistake. It was a fight to the finish and I’m just thrilled to back that up and to win another World Title today. It’s amazing."
On Saturday she not only defended that world title, but exorcised any remaining demons from her Rio Olympics.
“Last year my Pau race (2017 World Championships Pau, France) 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.
"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. I had a great season at the World Cups and this is just the icing on the cake. I’m so happy and so proud to put that run down today.”
Great Britain’s Mallory Franklin took the silver in 104.34, and Germany’s Ricarda Funk, with a two-second penalty, was third in 105.32.
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.
Winning Sunday's title would give Fox seven individual world titles, and eight titles overall when you add team golds. That takes her past her mother, Myriam Fox-Jerusalmi, as the most successful female athlete of all time.
Myriam won eight gold medals for France across both individual and team competitions, a feat so far unmatched in history.
Fox qualified second fastest for Sunday’s C1 final, while Rosalyn Lawrence was sixth quickest.
“I had a very solid run, which I thought on this very tough course was going to be enough,” Lawrence said.
“But all season, solid hasn’t been good enough. So I wasn’t really sure how all the other girls were going to go, and the field is increasingly good. It was a little bit of a nervous wait. It’ll be good to be fresh for tomorrow. It will be fun.”
Noemie Fox finished in 15th and will miss the final.
In the men’s K1, Rio 2016 Olympian Lucien Delfour and Daniel Watkins will both miss Sunday’s K1 final after a tight-run semi-final on Saturday afternoon.
Delfour picked up a late gate touch which dropped him back to 12th, while Watkins also picked up a gate touch to finish 28th. It was the first K1 Senior World Championship semi-final for the 22-year old Tasmanian.
Already on Friday, Watkins finished 22nd in another first World Championships semi-final, in the men’s C1.
Racing continues in Rio today with the women’s C1 and men’s K1 and the extreme slalom events.