RAPID FIRE: Jessica Fox is a medal hope for Australia.
RAPID FIRE: Jessica Fox is a medal hope for Australia. Harry Hubbard

Silver lining to Fox's near miss

SHE may have come away from London 2012 as second best in the women's K1 slalom, but paddler Jessica Fox was more than satisfied.

Then just 18, Fox was one of the surprise packets at the Lee Valley White Water Centre when finishing within 0.6 of a second behind eventual champion Emilie Fer, from France.

"I was not disappointed at all to be honest,” she told Australian Regional Media.

"It never even crossed my mind to be upset with my racing. I came into those Olympics as a dark horse in a way.

"I knew top five was within reach and a medal could be. But at the end of the day I just wanted to make the final and when I crossed the line I was really happy with that (time), no matter what the result. It was my first Olympics and I delivered my best.

"But you do look back on it and go '0.6 of a second is nothing ... I could've won the gold'. But I wasn't ready.”

The 22-year-old, who was born in France and raised in Sydney, is ready now to win Australia's first canoe/kayak slalom Olympic gold.

"It's obviously made me hungrier,” she said. "It's been an exciting journey.”

Coming into Rio, Fox won another silver medal in the K1 at the World Cup in June, finishing 2.12 seconds behind Spain's Maialen Chourraut, who revelled on her home Seu course in Spain.

Then last month, she claimed her third consecutive under-23 K1 title in Krakow, blitzing her rivals to win by more than three seconds. It came after she won her third under-23 non-Olympic C1 world title, also by more than three seconds.

Fox created history last year when winning a third successive women's title in the C1 event at the world championships in London.

"Winning the three world titles in C1 has been really special,” she said.

"The Olympics medal is something else. It is the pinnacle of our sport.

"You can just feel it in every aspect of it ... the stadium and crowd that comes to watch.”

Among those on hand to watch at Deodoro will be her parents, Richard Fox, the canoe/ slalom team leader, and mother Myriam, her coach.

Richard, a five-time world champion in the sport, competed for Great Britain in the K1 at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, finishing fourth.

Myriam competed for France at the 1992 Barcelona and 1996 Atlanta Games, winning bronze in Atlanta in the K1. She was a two-time world champion and was a slalom coach at the 2004 and 2008 Games for Australia.

"I've seen my mum's Olympic race from Atlanta and I've seen some of my dad's races, but it is a much different sport now than what it was back then.

"The shapes and materials used in these kayaks, it's changed a lot, they're lighter they're quicker. Because of that the technique has changed a lot, the rules have changed a bit too.

"When my parents still raced they were racing for five minutes and were doing two runs and the times were added.

"When we race now we race for about 90 to 100 seconds and (take) the best of two runs.

"It's much shorter and more dynamic and exciting.”

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