Australia’s most successful canoe slalom paddler of all time and dual Olympic medallist, Jessica Fox, has kicked-off the 2020 Olympic season in style, blitzing the field at the 2020 Australian Canoe Slalom Championships and winning both the women’s K1 and C1. Fellow NSWIS athlete Lucien Delfour took home the title in the men’s K1.
The 2020 Paddle Australia Canoe Slalom Championships at Penrith Whitewater Stadium was the season opener and first hit out of the Tokyo 2020 season for Australia’s best canoe slalom paddlers on home waters and the lead-up event to the canoe slalom national selection season.
The national titles will be followed by the 2020 Oceania Canoe Slalom Championship in Auckland (1-3 February 2020) and the Australian Open as part of the 2020 Sydney Whitewater Festival (21-23 February 2020), with both events relevant for selections.
194 days out from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Fox impressed with clean runs and fast times over the weekend and took home the double national title after missing last year’s nationals. Fox finished the K1 in a time of 97.88 seconds and over ten seconds ahead of second-placed Kate Eckhardt from Tasmania.
“It was great to have our first hit out of 2020 and be back racing nationals after missing last year’s. I’m happy with my racing, especially in K1 which saw me put down some fast and clean times. It was a bit less consistent in C1 but happy to win the double,” Jessica Fox said.
NSW Institute of Sport athlete Noemie Fox finished second in the women’s C1.
Jessica Fox is the only Paddle Australia athlete already selected on to the Tokyo 2020 Australian Olympic Team, but national selection trials at the next two events are yet to decide who will join her in the canoe slalom team.
The Australian Paddling Team already secured the maximum quota spots per country for the Tokyo 2020 men’s K1 and women’s C1 and K1 events at the 2019 World Championships, but will still be looking to earn a quota in the men’s C1 event. National selection trials will then confirm, who will be nominated to the Australian Olympic Committee for selection.
Rio Olympian Lucien Delfour (NSWIS) secured Australia the men’s K1 quota spot at the ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships in September last year but who will represent Australia in Tokyo is yet to be decided.
On Sunday, Delfour set a first mark for 2020 by winning the national title in a time of 89.67 despite a two seconds penalty ahead of New Zealand’s Callum Gilbert. Tim Anderson (NSW) finished third and 1.97 seconds behind the winner.
In the men’s C1, the competition is even tighter with Australia yet to secure the Tokyo C1 quota spot and the upcoming Oceania Canoe Slalom Championships and Contentinental Qualifier the final chance to do so.
Nationals were the first indication of the tight battle to come with 2019 national team paddler Daniel Watkins throwing down the gauntlet and winning the men’s C1 national title for the third time in a row.