BUENOS AIRES 2018: Paddle Australia’s Jenaya Massie (QLD) will be part of a group of 64 athletes from more than 30 nations who will be competing in canoe at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games.
Testing the true versatility and dedication of the Youth Olympians, athletes will compete in both a head-to-head sprint and a head-to-head slalom obstacle course on flat water.
Sixteen-year-old Massie was selected as the sole Australian representative at YOG after securing the quota for the Oceania region at the World Youth qualifying event in Barcelona, Spain in April.
Some of the biggest names in the sporting world began their international careers at the Youth Olympic Games, including YOG ambassador and dual Olympic medallist Jessica Fox.
24-year old Fox won gold in the women's obstacle canoe slalom at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games (YOG) at Singapore 2010 and said the event played a big role in where she is today.
“The YOG in 2010 was an incredible experience as a 16-year old. It was my first ever YOG, my first ever Olympic team and a really cool experience. I won my event and it was really special to be part of that Australian Olympic team, to see the Olympic rings on my chest and to be wearing the green and gold as part of a bigger team,” Fox said.
“And although my event was a little bit different to the traditional Olympic event, everything else was like the Olympics. Maybe a little bit toned down, but we had the village life, we’ve had the uniform, the pass, transport and the media and it really was a taste of the Olympics. So when I got to London two years later, it helped me because it felt like I had done it before.”
Only a couple of weeks ago, Fox became the greatest female slalom paddler of all time and the most successful individual slalom paddler, after winning double gold at the 2018 Canoe Slalom World Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and breaking the two records that were previously held by her parents.
“It’s been my best ever season and to win two world titles and celebrating in Buenos Aires with everyone has been amazing, Fox said.
“To overtake mum as most successful female athlete in the sport has been very special. There are no hard feelings, she’s taken it really well and it’s something we’ve been able to share because it is as much her win as it is mine.
"It’s something I would have never expected in my wildest dreams, when I started out in the sport so it’s been super special”, Fox said about her record-breaking season.
Following her historic season finish, Fox went straight over to Argentina in her role as YOG ambassador and to support the athletes, who are at the stage where she started her successful career.
“Enjoy the experience, share the experience with those around you and with friends and family when you get home, your team mates, your clubs and inspire those around you. It’s an amazing opportunity to represent your country. Be proud and do your best and enjoy it. The best of luck to Jenaya and all the other Aussies competing,” Fox said.
Like Jenaya Massie, Fox was first a kayaker before trying canoe slalom. And it is Fox’s story, approach and success that motivates and inspires Massie for her upcoming premier at the Youth Olympic Games and contesting both the sprint and slalom events.
“Having Jess over in Buenos Aires has been so good. She is at the top of the sport and knows all the small tricks. She has also been exactly where I am and knows what the excitement and nerves are like at this high level of competition,” Jenaya Massie said.
“Knowing that she was from a kayak background and was able to achieve such a great result at the YOG in the slalom really motivates me. It made me just believe in myself that little bit extra and helped me to not count my self out of the top competition as a sprint kayaker.”
“Jess definitely adds the motivation that Aussies have the potential to go well in the games and also after. Jess showed and continues to show the rest of the world that Australia has the potential to win and podium in slalom and kayak.”
Jenaya Massie comes to Buenos Aires after having most recently competed at the Olympic Hopes Regatta, an international canoe sprint event for U16 Olympic hopefuls. She was coached by Olympians Ken Wallace (QLD) and Alyce Burnett (QLD) at the regatta and has arrived in Buenos Aires with extra confidence as a consequence.
The canoeing competition at the Youth Olympic Games will test the skills of the athletes across both canoe slalom and canoe sprint. A challenge Jenaya Massie is looking forward to and despite coming from a sprint background, it is the slalom she is looking forward to the most.
“I really enjoy the racing format because it’s totally new to me. My background is in kayak sprint, so I am in my comfort zone racing here, however, years of racing in Surf Life Saving have prepared me well for the slalom. Being in a different type of boat, having a different blade and going down ramps is an exciting change and challenge that I really enjoy. The ramp start and the eskimo roll is my favourite aspect of the slalom.”
In Buenoes Aires the competition will start out with the canoe sprint races 12-13 October. In Canoe Sprint, athletes paddle on a circuit course, and compete head to head against each other.
The canoe slalom obstacle race will follow 15-16 October with athletes competing on a calm water surface as opposed to a natural river or artificial slalom course. However, they still need to demonstrate the skills of a slalom paddler by manoeuvring around gates and beating the other athlete's time on the course.