Pathways and Pedigrees

15 July 2013

Two young ladies with Olympic bloodlines are on track to realise their dreams of wearing the green and gold at the Games when they compete at the Junior Canoe Slalom World Championships in Liptovsky, Slovakia this week.

They may even qualify crucial spots for Australia in their sport at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in the process.

Teenagers Noemie Fox and Kate Eckhardt will make their World Championship debuts at the junior canoe slalom event and have set themselves the goal of observing the atmosphere, relishing in the experience and trying their best.

“It is my first Junior World Championships,” Fox said. “So I am just looking forward to performing my best and seeing how I rank against other junior girls in C1 and K1.”

“I do not have any high expectations of myself,” Eckhardt said. “I just plan to go out and do my best and see where that puts me.”

The Olympic hopefuls must finish in the top five of the C1 women’s event and top six of the K1women’s event at the Junior World Championships to secure qualification places for Australia at next year’s YOG.

“The 2014 YOG would be a great experience for any athlete and I would love to be able to participate in that,” Fox said.

The Penrith local understands the importance of the YOG. Her sister Jessica Fox competed at the 2010 YOG in Singapore and won a gold medal in the K1 obstacle canoe slalom. She went on to represent Australia at the 2012 London Olympic Games and won a silver medal in the K1.

In addition, Fox’s mother Myriam represented France at the 1996 Olympic Games while her father competed for Great Britain at the 1992 Olympic Games. Also at those Barcelona Games was Australian Peter Eckhardt, father of Kate, who competed in the C1 slalom.

The teenagers have already ticked the first box in their Olympic pathway, having competed at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF), winning gold medals in their respective events.

“The Australian Youth Olympic Festival was a great opportunity and experience,” 16-year-old Fox said. “It gave me an insight to the Olympics or YOG and it motivated me to want to pursue my dream of competing in an Olympic event.”

“After the AYOF all I wanted to do was go to another Olympic event,” Tasmanian local Eckhardt said. “It was such a wonderful experience and my result of first in the C1 was very exciting for me. To go to the YOG would be amazing and I would love to go to experience another Olympic event.”

They shall tick the second box in their Olympic pathways when they compete at the Junior World Championships this week. The third tick would come when they hopefully compete at the second Youth Olympic Games in August 2014 in Nanjing, China. The fourth and most coveted box would be ticked when they are selected to compete at the 2016 and/or 2020 Olympic Games.

“Within my career, I wish to become the best that I can and perform at the best of my ability,” 15-year-old Eckhardt said. “The Olympics is my ultimate dream, but I just plan to pursue the sport as long as I am able and still enjoy it."

The Junior Canoe Slalom World Championships are taking place in Liptovsky Slovakia from 17 – 23 July.

Frances Cordaro

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