North Korea has been formally suspended from the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics by the IOC as punishment for refusing to send a team to the Tokyo Games citing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jessica Fox has dominated the competition in the first ever women’s C1 final, finally claiming her elusive first Olympics gold medal, the almost unbearable tension ahead of the race making her throw up.
She wasn’t the only one with knots ripping through her stomach. It seemed like the whole of Australia stopped to see if the seven-time World Cup winner could take the step up to become an Olympic champion at a fourth attempt.
Fox was set a tough challenge after Great Britain’s Mallory Franklin laid down a scorching time of 108.68
But the 27-year-old, who suffered two crucial penalties in her K1 final that saw her forced to settle for bronze medal despite ruthlessly dominating the field in the heats and the semi-finals, made no mistake this time.
She absolutely glided down the course to finish with an a time of 1:05.04 to finish in first place by more than three seconds.
Five minutes where all of Australia was trying to hold back the waterworks ????
— 7Olympics (@7olympics) July 29, 2021
Fox has been a world champion but stood on an Olympic podium three times before today without claiming a gold. She won the K1 silver in London 2012 and bronze in Rio five years ago, and after her bronze again earlier this Games there were those who questioned if she had the mental strength to win on Thursday.
Fox was also a leading advocate for equality in the sport, that saw the canoe event (C1) added to these Games, so it was only fitting that she became to only athlete of either gender to medal in K1 and C1 events at an Olympics.
Fox was pumped as she crossed the finish line and looked up at the scoreboard for confirmation of her victory, the stress suddenly released after her nine year purusit of gold.
“Twenty minutes before the final I went in and I said ‘I feel good, but I just went and threw up!'” Fox told Channel Seven.
“That’s never happened to me before – I’ve never felt that sick or nervous.”
She was still in her canoe when her mum and coach Miriam, a former kayak Olympic bronze medallist, and her sister Noemie embraced her.
“I was full of emotion as soon as she passed the tricky gate,” said Miriam. “I’m not normally like that but today it was really special.”
Her dad Richard, a former Olympian and world champion, was commentating for Channel Seven in the Australian studio. He celebrated the win with a glass of champagne.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Richard. “I mean it’s the C1 event, the first time in the Games. It’s the race she had to win.
“I think what happened in the K1 final shattered her. To come back from that to recompose herself. She wasn’t at her best in the heats. Yeah, that was so good.
“I was stunned and amazed because you don’t know what’s going to unfold. You have to earn it. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past. She managed that emotion and pressure down to a tee.”
The pair chatted on air afterwards.
“I love you, through the final and beyond – I was crying,” Richard told Jess. He later added: “You don’t want her to through that again which is why that race was so powerful and special.”
Fox replied: “I love you too, thank you for all the love support and messages. I can’t wait to show you this one, dad!”
1st – Jessica Fox (AUS) – 105.04
2nd – Mallory Franklin (GBR) – 108.68
3rd – Andrea Herzog (GER) – 111.13