Fox, Delfour shine on the whitewater in Penrith

Jessica Fox at Penrith Whitewater Stadium.
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Olympic gold medallist Jessica Fox has continued her golden form into the new year, taking out the women’s kayak final at the 2022 ICF Oceania Canoe Slalom Championships in Penrith.

Tokyo teammate and dual Olympian Lucien Delfour was the standout in the men’s kayak field, taking out the gold medal.

Following on from her stellar 2021 season, Fox managed to carry the momentum into the new year, getting 2022 off to a winning start.

The first opportunity to race on home soil in almost 12 months, Fox said it was good to be back.

“It’s good to be back racing, it’s a bit sad that we don’t have any internationals here this year, or even our neighbours from New Zealand,” Fox said.

“So it doesn’t really feel like an international race, but it’s always good to get on the start line and practice like it is, and push yourself to get into that mindset again.

“The course was quite challenging, very physically demanding and quite long, so I was exhausted by the end, but I’m happy I was able to get the win.”

It’s just the start of what is set to be a big weekend of racing for Fox, with the women’s canoe finals today, as well as the new Olympic discipline Extreme Canoe Slalom tonight.

“It’s such a technical course, so I’ll be analysing tonight, looking at the video and thinking about what my options will be in the canoe tomorrow,” Fox said.

“Having the afternoon off today will be good, but tomorrow’s a big day, so recovering well is going to be key.

“It’s going to be good to race extreme slalom as well, we’ve got a ramp here in Penrith now which is extremely helpful.

“It’s a new event, so we’ve got to get as much experience in as possible, because there’s so much strategy involved.

“It’s all about learning as you go, and learning to be adaptable. It’s very different to a normal slalom, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Men’s champion Delfour was quite happy with his win today, but also excited to see some young talent coming through.

“It’s a good result after what has felt like a stressful few days for me leading into this event,” Delfour said.

“But it’s always a good feeling to get a win, and it was great to see so many young, up and coming paddlers in the final today.

“Regardless of your level as a paddler, it’s never easy heading into a selection event. There’s not much to win, and a lot to lose, so it feels good when you put down a good run, and I’m really proud I was able to do that today.”

Despite missing some of his international competitors, Delfour said he was just excited to be getting opportunities to race on home soil again.

“We just have to remember to be grateful that we can actually race. We take it for granted some times, and just the fact that we are able to have an event like this is just amazing,” he said.

“We’ve got the Australian Open coming up in a couple of weeks as well, and I’m really looking to cement my spot on the national team,” he said.

Racing will return to Penrith Whitewater Stadium today, with the men’s and women’s canoe semis and finals, as well as Extreme Canoe Slalom.

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