Jessica Fox, considered by many to be the greatest paddler of all time, was heavily favored to win gold in the Tokyo Olympics women’s slalom K-1 competition.
Instead, the Jewish paddler takes home a bronze medal on Tuesday, as she did at the 2016 Rio Games.
Ahead of the final, Fox was the top qualifier with the fastest time in the semifinals. Yet as she paddled in her final race, “it didn’t go to plan,” Fox says. “I had to fight all the way down.”
Fox, 27, bursts into tears as her mom and coach, Myriam Jerusalmi, also an Olympic medalist in kayaking, comforts her after the race.
“It’s all the emotions,” Fox tells Australian media. “I’m disappointed that I made the mistakes I did that cost me the gold medal, but also relieved and happy to be on the podium. It’s our sport… I’d obviously come dreaming of that gold medal, so when I hugged Mum that’s when the floodgates opened.”
Fox had won silver in the same event at the 2012 London Olympics. This year, she’ll be able to compete in a different slalom competition, C-1, in part thanks to her activism — it was added as an event for women. She is favored to win gold there, too. The competition is set to begin on Wednesday.