Olympic silver medallist Jess Fox has failed to defend her K1 title after finishing fourth in the final at the Canoe Slalom World Championships in London.
The 21-year-old went into the final as the second fastest qualifier, but lost all momentum after picking up an early penalty.
“It was a rocky start, I clipped gate three, so from there I just had to attack it,” Fox said.
“Fourth place, it’s so close. It’s disappointing not to be able to defend my title from last year. I really wanted to go out in the final and take some risks, and this time it didn’t pay off.
“A fourth place is hard. You’re not fifth, and you’re not third where you’re happy. Fifth place you’d be content, fourth you’re just a bit gutted.”
Australia is guaranteed a place in the K1 at next year’s Rio Olympics on the strength of Fox’s performance this weekend.
She is hoping to get the chance to go one better than her silver medal at London 2012, and believes the experience of the past 12 months has been character building.
“This race has been such a big learning experience, coming in here as reigning world champion and dealing with the pressure, and the pressure of qualifying a spot for the Olympics next year,” she said.
“In that sense the job is done, but I’ll be that much hungrier next year. I’m looking forward to training up, learning from this and coming back next year.” Gold in the final went to Katerina Kudejova of the Czech Republic, who had an error-free run to post a time of 103.62.
Germany’s Ricarda Funk and Melanie Pfeifer filled the minor placings, but only one German boat will be allowed to compete in Rio.
Fox’s time of 107.27, which included a two-second penalty, was 3.65 secs behind Kudejova, and almost three seconds slower than her error-free run in the semi-finals.
Fox will get her chance to get on the podium on Sunday when she attempts a third consecutive World title in the non-Olympic C1 event.