To say we’re impressed would be an understatement.
While most 20-somethings consider stumbling hungover into a 9.00am lecture an achievement, Jessica Fox has her sights set far higher. Born in France, Fox moved to Australia with her parents when she was four-years-old and since then has become the youngest woman to win an Olympic medal in canoe slalom and the only woman to win two senior world championships in two classes.
By the time she was 13, Fox was beating competitors who were five years her senior. She became a five-time Junior World Champion and then went on to the Olympics.
Earlier this year Fox became the first woman ever to win the junior world championships in two classes (K1, C1), the u23 world championship in two classes and the first woman to win senior world championships in both. She’s an Olympic silver medallist too but she’s a woman you probably know very little about.
I was lucky enough to chat to the young canoeist and found out how she got in to such an exciting sport, what it feels like to be a world champion at a young age and whether she ever gets scared while she’s in the water.
Want more related: Happy news for Aussie Olympic legend.
How did you get in to Canoe Slalam?
JF: Both my parents used to do it. My mum for France and my dad for Great Britain. I grew up around the sport. Mum was competing straight after she had me for 2-3 years. So I was by the river bank and got into it that way during that part of my life – early on.
When I was 11 I broke my arm doing gymnastics. I’d been into a lot of sports growing up. I was told to do kayaking for some rehabilitation. I made a really good friend at the white water centre – who is still my best friend today – and that’s how I started off.
What do you love about the sport?
JF: It’s exciting and varied. Every time I’m training I’m trying something different. The courses are always different, varied and new.
I’ve also had the opportunity to travel to amazing places around the world. And it’s a cool way to discover the world – on the beautiful rivers and they’re all so different.
How does it feel to be a world champion at such a young age?
JF: It’s pretty special. It’s something I was dreaming of when I started – when I was 14 and 15. When you’re younger you think, ‘that’d be cool to compete at the senior world championships.’ But I didn’t expect to win both senior world titles in one year – that’s never been done before. It’s a very awesome feeling.
Do you ever get scared when you’re in the water?
JF: Not so much. The rivers we race in are generally really safe because you know what’s under the water. There’s no hidden logs or rocks that you’re not expecting to be there. When I’m doing river running you go and you run a river for an hour or two and you’ve never seen it before and that’s when it gets exciting and scary because you don’t know what’s coming up next.
What’s the worst accident you’ve ever had?
JF: I haven’t had any really bad ones. But I do know people who have. For me the only injuries I’ve had are head and shoulders, like a lot of athletes.