In the tranquil waters of Marseille, where the waves dance with the breeze and the sun paints the horizon in golden hues, a passionate girl was born who would become an unstoppable force in the world of canoeing: Jessica Fox.
Born in Marseille, she is part of a family of kayakers:
In Marseille, the love for sports naturally flowed into her life from a young age.
From her childhood by the sea in Marseille to her move to Australia before the 2000 Olympics, Jessica shares how being active outdoors became an integral part of her identity.
Jessica participated in three Summer Olympics and one Youth Summer Olympics, winning a total of five medals.
1. Gold at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore
2. Silver in London 2012 (K1)
3. Bronze in Rio de Janeiro 2016 (K1)
4. Gold in Tokyo 2020 (C1)
5. Bronze in Tokyo 2020 (K1)
Additionally, she is a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Athletes’ Commission.
TELL ME A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND HOW YOU GOT INTO THE WORLD OF OUTDOOR SPORTS
In this first part of the interview, Jessica Fox takes us through her early memories in the world of canoeing.
Jessica Fox: “I was born in Marseille into a sports-oriented family; my parents were kayakers, so it was inevitable that paddling would be a part of my life. I grew up by the sea in Marseille during my early years before we moved to Australia before the 2000 Olympics.
Being active outdoors is part of the culture, and with such great weather, it’s easy to do in Australia! It’s something our family really enjoyed, whether it was hiking in the Blue Mountains, paddling on lakes and rivers, or going to the beach; many of my childhood memories are related to being outdoors.”
WHY DOES CANOEING IGNITE YOUR PASSION?
Jessica Fox immerses us in the passion she feels for canoeing. For her, the water becomes a constantly changing canvas, and each river and course is a new experience.
Her love for competition and the friendships she has cultivated over the years in the world of canoeing highlight her dedication to this sport.
“I really love being on the water and the fact that each course or river is different. I’ve always been competitive and enjoy competitions, and I love the friendships I’ve made over the years with international athletes.
It’s an activity that I know I’ll be able to continue even after I retire from competition; there are so many different ways to paddle and enjoy our world.”
CAN YOU SHARE YOUR BEST MEMORY OR EXPERIENCE WHILE CANOEING?
Jessica Fox shares some of the most memorable experiences she’s had while canoeing.
From winning the Olympic Gold medal in Tokyo 2020 to her journey down the Pallaresa River in plastic boats. Every moment on the water has left an indelible mark on her heart.
“It’s so hard to pick one! Of course, achieving my dream of winning an Olympic Gold medal in Tokyo 2020 was very special; sharing this with my family and everyone who supported me was incredible. Canoeing has taken me to amazing places all around the world, and although I focus on SLALOM and primarily train and compete on artificial channels, I have beautiful memories of being on the river with friends for hours.
One experience I cherish was in 2009: my first time on the junior national team, we had some competitions and training camps in Europe, and on our way to La Seu D’Urgell, we paddled on the Noguera Pallaresa River: we did the full descent in plastic kayaks (freestyle, freeride, creek). It was so much fun, incredibly beautiful, and being on the river for 6 hours with friends was very special!”
WINNING A SILVER MEDAL IN YOUR OLYMPIC DEBUT AT 18 YEARS OLD IS REMARKABLE. CAN YOU SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS AND EMOTIONS FROM THAT MOMENT, REPRESENTING AUSTRALIA ON SUCH A BIG STAGE?
In this part, Jessica Fox takes us through an unforgettable journey: her Olympic debut in London 2012.
Despite initial challenges, her determination led her to the final and made her the winner of the silver medal, an achievement that will stay etched in her memory forever.
Jessica Fox: “London 2012 was an incredible experience. It was my first Games and a dream come true to be on the start line. I was one of the youngest, and my goal was to do my best!
I flipped in the first run, so it wasn’t a good start! But after that moment, I really tried to enjoy the experience and not let myself be overwhelmed by the grandeur of the moment; paddling in front of 12,000 people can be quite intimidating.
Making it to the final was a great achievement, and winning the silver was just surreal. It was an amazing moment that I will cherish forever! Sharing the podium with Maialen Chourraut from Spain was very special; she’s an athlete I’ve admired for a long time and has become a dear friend… and we’ve been on the podium together at the 3 Olympics: London, Rio, and Tokyo!”
BEING PART OF A FAMILY WITH A DEEP CONNECTION TO CANOEING, INCLUDING YOUR PARENTS' OLYMPIC ACHIEVEMENTS, MUST HAVE BEEN INSPIRATIONAL. HOW HAS YOUR FAMILY'S INFLUENCE SHAPED YOUR JOURNEY AND APPROACH TO THE SPORT?
She delves into the profoundly inspiring influence of her family on her journey.
With parents and a sister who are also passionate about canoeing, Jessica found her own path, guided by the teachings and support of her loved ones.
“Yes, I feel very fortunate and grateful for my family. My parents and my sister inspire me daily and have been a significant part of my journey. Growing up, it was a bit overwhelming to follow in their footsteps, but I quickly established my own path and sought their guidance and opinions.
They are experts and great canoeists, and I’ve learned so much from them!
When I started paddling, my dad taught me the basics of good technique; he was the master! As I grew up and joined the national team, I integrated into my mom’s training group (she coached women in kayaking), and then my sister also joined the team.
Mom has been my coach for over 15 years, and we’ve achieved incredible results together.”
CAN YOU TALK A BIT ABOUT YOUR TRAINING ROUTINE? WHAT DOES IT INVOLVE TO PREPARE FOR IMPORTANT COMPETITIONS, BOTH PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY?
Here she takes us behind the scenes into her rigorous training routine. From sessions on the water to gym exercises, she gives us a detailed insight into how she prepares both physically and mentally for major competitions.
I compete in three events: kayak, canoe, and kayak cross, so my training is a combination of paddling in white water, flat water, gym workouts, and other activities like pilates or running. Slalom K1 and C1 competitions make up the majority of my technical and physical training, and kayak cross is much more tactical.
I usually train six days a week; I do most of my physical sessions on the kayak and try to balance technical training between K1 and C1. I hit the gym three times a week, focusing on power and strength development, and injury prevention. I also see a physiotherapist twice a week.
Mental preparation is as important as physical work, and I’ve worked with sports psychologists and coaches to help with focus, concentration, endurance, and performing under pressure. It’s always a work in progress and something I try to implement in every training session so that when competition time comes, it becomes automatic.”
What advice would you give to someone who has never tried adventure sports before?
“Go for it! There’s magic in feeling challenged, pushing our comfort zones, being outdoors, and discovering the world around us. Don’t be afraid to be a beginner and learn something new. Paddling is a way to see the world from a different perspective, in a way you can’t when you’re on foot.”
Is there any RocRoi activity you're looking forward to trying but haven't done yet?
“I would love to do the Noguera Pallaresa trip again that I did when I was a junior, and why not try something different like hydrospeed or canyoning!”
We would love to hear your inspiring words for our community. Could you share with us a phrase that motivates you and could inspire other outdoor and adventure sports enthusiasts?
In her closing words, Jessica shares her life philosophy: the importance of embracing challenges, celebrating small victories, and appreciating the world with gratitude.
Her favorite quote by David McCullough Jr. serves as a beacon for all adventure enthusiasts.
“Whatever your goal or aspiration, belief, discipline, and effort are the foundations to help you get there when motivation waxes and wanes.
In competitive sports, we’re very focused on outcomes, but sometimes it’s important to enjoy and celebrate small victories and appreciate the world around us with gratitude.
I love a quote by David McCullough Jr: ‘Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air, and behold the view.
Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you!’
Legacy and Future
Jessica Fox, more than an Olympic athlete, is a palpable reminder that true greatness lies in passion, perseverance, and love for what we do.
Her story is not just a tale of victories on the water but also an ode to exploration, family, and inner strength.
In every paddle stroke, we find not only the power of the body but also the power of the human spirit. In every victory, we see our own dreams and aspirations reflected.