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In 3rd Olympics outing, Australian Jewish paddler wins gold in canoe slalom

Jessica Fox becomes first-ever woman to win gold medal in Olympic event opened to female paddlers for first time in 2021

Jessica Fox of Australia competes in the Women's C1 of the Canoe Slalom at the 2020 Summer Olympics, on July 29, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Jessica Fox of Australia competes in the Women's C1 of the Canoe Slalom at the 2020 Summer Olympics, on July 29, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

JTA — Jessica Fox, the Jewish paddler from Australia, has won gold in an Olympics event that is newly open to women because of her advocacy.

Fox took home the top prize in canoe slalom on Thursday, making her the first-ever woman to win a gold medal in the event in an Olympics. She had been among the athletes pushing for canoe slalom, long part of the men’s competition, to be part of women’s paddling in the Tokyo Olympics.

Fox has long been dominant in both kayak slalom and canoe slalom. On Tuesday, she came up short in kayak slalom, winning bronze for the second straight time in the Olympics. One of just eight athletes to compete in both events, Fox’s canoe slalom time of 105.04 seconds — a stunning three seconds ahead of the silver medalist — made her the only woman to medal in both.

Fox’s Jewish mom and coach, Myriam Jerusalmi, won bronze for France at the 1996 Olympics. Her dad, Richard Fox, paddled for Britain and just missed the podium at the 1992 Olympics.

“It’s really hard to put it into words,” Fox said after winning the gold medal. “My parents have been amazing role models, amazing inspirations, amazing support for me. Both being Olympians — mum winning bronze, Dad missing the gold because of a penalty, mum missing the gold because of a penalty — I think we’re all pretty emotional about these penalties. So to win today, it’s a win for them. It’s a win for our whole family.”

Jerusalmi, too, described Fox’s win as a moving moment. “I was full of emotion as soon as she passed the tricky gate,” she told Australian media. “I’m not like that, usually, but today I think it was really special.”

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