When Jess Fox was 16, she learnt a valuable lesson while being pummelled by a terrifying white water course in Slovenia. “It was my first time there and this drop was massive – it has the reputation of being one of the hardest and most aggressive courses we race on,” the Toyota ambassador recalls. “After about 10 runs of getting destroyed, I said, ‘No, that’s it, I’m done’.”
Her parents insisted she give it another shot, and while teenage Jess was outraged, deep down she knew they were right. “I knew I would feel better once I had learnt how to overcome it, otherwise that fear was always going to be there,” she explains.
Now 24, that lesson still guides the Olympic medallist – and she says it applies to just about any challenge.
“Whenever I don’t want to do something, I know I need to do it. If there’s a big public speaking appearance that I’m nervous about, or it’s something that’s really going to challenge me and I’m hesitant to do it, it’s a ‘yes’. It’s going to make me grow as an athlete and as a person.”
You can’t argue with the results of that approach: Fox ended the 2018 season on a high, taking out the Canoe Slalom World Cup and World Championships titles, making her the most successful individual paddler in history.
“I don’t know if I can top that, but I’m going to try,” she says of her goals for 2019. “It’s an important year because it’s a pre-Olympic year, so I want to stay healthy and fit and keep pushing the limit in my sport.”
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