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Fox’s golden event added to Olympic programme

7 July 2017

CANOE/KAYAK – SLALOM: It was the news female canoe slalom athletes all over the world were holding their breath for.

While they thought it was a definitely possibility, no one could contain their excitement when the news was announced last month.

The female single canoe slalom event (C1) was added to the Olympic Programme for Tokyo 2020.

And no one was more excited than two time Olympic medallist and current C1 World Champion Jess Fox.

“We were expecting it but it is exciting and a relief to have the official word that it will be added to the Olympic program,” said the K1 London silver medallist and Rio bronze medallist

“It is exciting for all the women in the sport and the next generation who have already started C1 paddling who will now be fully supported by their country as competing in an Olympic discipline.”

The addition of 15 new sports for Tokyo 2020 will see a boost in female participation and youth appeal at the Olympic Games.

“The decision marks a key milestone in the evolution of the Olympic programme by introducing youth and urban innovations, significantly improving gender equality, and reducing the overall number of athletes hence reducing the Games’ footprint,” as IOC media release said on June 9.

“The decision is a significant step towards achieving the 50 per cent gender balance at the Olympic Games in both athletes and events, as clearly stated by Olympic Agenda 2020,” the IOC said.

Fox, who has just completed her most successful ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup weekend for 2017 when she won C1 gold and K1 silver in Markkkleeberg, Germany, agrees that the addition of the female C1 event is a significant moment in Olympic history for female paddlers.

“It was a needed and important step for the sport to reach gender equity and to remain in the Olympic programme,” the 23-year-old said of the removal of the men’s C2 event to accommodate for the addition of the women’s C1.

“I’ve been doing C1 since 2009 and have seen it evolve and been a part of the lobbying for gender equity and it’s a very rewarding and proud feeling to know the role Australia - the athletes, the coaches and our federation – played in leading that change.

“The field is growing and what is awesome is to see the next generation of girls on the water who are already in C1 boats and charging!Jess Fox C1 Gold 2015

“In the last eight years, a lot of the girls who did C1 were self-funded, received minimal coaching, had to make their own way to races or were faced with super tough selection criteria - basically they received minimal support from their federation as they were not an Olympic event. But now I think we will see that with increased support a lot more countries will be on the C1 start line and the level of the field will increase,” Fox said of her pet discipline.

While disappointed to see the men’s C2 event removed from the programme, Fox said there is a lot of support from the canoeing community for the sort change.

“The disapproval comes from the removal of the men’s C2 event - it really is a shame to lose the category because it is great to watch but unfortunately there are not enough quotas and again, the issue is about gender equity.

“Perhaps one day we might see mixed gender C2?

“Generally there is widespread support and from the women it is obviously really positive and exciting.”

So what will this mean for the four time C1 World Champion, dual K1 Olympic Medallist and former K1 World Champion?

“Tough question!

“I would like to continue [competing in] both, but we will see how it all pans out.

“At the moment I am world number one in C1 and 3rd in K1 so I am competitive in both classes; it’s just about sustaining that and continuing to improve and develop my strength and technique in both.”

Fox will now turn her attention to the U23 World Championships in Bratislava next month, before the final two World Cups and the 2017 World Championships in France where she will look to defend her C1 crown.

Georgia Thompson

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