For a lot of elite athletes, the year straight after an Olympics is the time you take things a bit easy.
For most it’s certainly the most difficult time to remain enthused and driven.
Maybe it’s her youth, but Jessica Fox has been the complete opposite. She’s set herself a grueling campaign which will culminate this weekend when she paddles for gold in the K1 and C1 World Slalom Championships.
“I think for me this year the goal was racing experience,” Fox says.
“We were here in Europe for three months and the goal was to do as many races as I could, just to build that experience.
“I raced the five World Cups plus the U23 Worlds and others, and by doubling up categories it’s quite a heavy workload, but it’s good for me, it’s good experience.
“You can never learn how to race in a final unless you race in a final so its been a really good season.”
After shocking almost everyone by snatching silver as an 18-year-old in the K1 in London last year, Fox set about proving the Olympics was no fluke.
By any measure she’s succeeded. With four C1 World Cup titles, a K1 World Cup title, and the Under 23 C1 World Championship title under her belt this year, anyone who wants to suggest Fox is a flash-in-the-pan can’t read form.
Going into Prague this weekend Fox says she has some unfinished business.
“It’s a post-Olympic year so for me this is definitely important,” she said.
“In 2010 it was my first Worlds and I placed fifth and third; 2011 was a bit disastrous for me, and the Olympics was a great event and I’d love to be able to perform to my ability this week.”
Fox likes the Prague course and is confident it will suit her style.
“I think so. I try to adapt to any course I’m on, but I really like the big water because you can use the water more,” Fox said.
“But here you’ve got to have the speed and you’ve got to keep the pace up for the whole run, and I think my fitness is good enough to hold that pace.
“We raced in the Czech Championships at the beginning of August and I was in the same times or faster than the Czech girls so even though it’s not my course I feel I can change my technique to suit.”
19-year-old Fox will start a red-hot favourite in the C1, an event she’s been campaigning loudly to have included in the Rio Olympics.
Despite her dominance of that event, it’s the K1 which Fox spends most of her time practicing.
"I have been focussing on K1 more," Fox said.
"I don't do 50-50 training, it's usually more K1 than C1, just because it's such a competitive field. It is the Olympic sport, and I still have a bit to learn in K1 at that high level.
"I'm still not at that consistent stage of performing at a high level. But I've been feeling good on this course so we'll just have to wait and see on the day. I've got nothing to lose, I'm still young and have a lot to learn and I'm taking it in my stride. It's going to be a good experience no matter what."
Fox paid tribute to event organisers at a pre-event news conference in Prague this week. The city was hit by devastating floods earlier this year, placing in doubt the ability of the Czech Republic to host the event.
"It's been fantastic to see just how hard everybody has been working to restore it after the floods," she said.
"The whole International paddling community can appreciate the work that's been done by the organisers, the athletes in the club, everyone racing this weekend has been working so hard. I think it's great to see."
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