Tokyo Olympics: Mallory Franklin wins silver medal in women’s canoe slalom

Tokyo Olympics: Mallory Franklin wins silver in nail-biting women’s canoe slalom debut

Britain’s Mallory Franklin has won the silver medal in the women’s canoe slalom event at the Tokyo Olympics.

Franklin, 27, was leading with one competitor to go, but was denied gold by Australia’s Jessica Fox.

World number one Fox won with a time of one minute 5.04 seconds, with Germany’s Andrea Herzog third.

Franklin, a former world and European champion, posted a time of 1:08.68 seconds after a two-second penalty for touching the 15th of the 25 gates.

Britain have now won 18 medals – five golds, seven silvers and six bronze – at the Games.

Canoe slalom was first introduced at the 1972 Olympics, but this year was the first time the women’s C1 competition had been staged.

It came down to a dramatic finale as Franklin, ranked second in the world, waited to see whether Fox could deny her the gold medal.

Franklin had set the fastest time in Wednesday’s heats and Fox was the quickest in Thursday’s semi-finals. A clean run in the final gave the Australian the victory.

‘It’s amazing to have a medal’ – GB’s Franklin on silver medal in canoe slalom

“I’ve had a struggle in my finals so to put down a run like that, even with that touch, was amazing for me,” Franklin told BBC Sport.

“It was so stressful being sat up there on the start line, but I had a moment where I thought ‘I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else’ – it’s just really cool.

“I didn’t lose time with [the touch] and it was easy to keep building and stay focused. I hate then sitting watching people and you never know what will happen.”

Australia’s Fox is the daughter of Richard Fox, a British 10-time world champion who finished fourth in the men’s K1 at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

Mallory Franklin, Jessica Fox and Andrea Herzog
Mallory Franklin (left), Jessica Fox (centre) and Andrea Herzog with their medals

‘Pioneer’ Franklin on ‘really high-class’ event

Since 1972 there have been three canoe slalom categories for men to enter and just one for women.

But in Tokyo, for the first time, there has been gender parity among canoe slalom athletes as both men and women could enter either the canoe or kayak single events.

“I hope people see C1 women now as an event that is really high class – there was some amazing paddling,” said Franklin, who has been described as a ‘pioneer’ by her peers after pushing for the event to be included in the Games.

Before the Olympics started, Franklin told BBC Sport that “C1 women just wasn’t taken seriously” when it was included at the 2009 World Championships as an exhibition event.

“A lot of it was put down to girls not being strong enough,” she said. “There was not the appreciation that it was a brand new class that had just come in.”

Franklin becomes the second British woman to win a medal in canoe slalom after Helen Reeves took bronze in the kayak K1 event in Athens in 2004.

Analysis

Sir Matthew Pinsent, four-time Olympic rowing champion on BBC TV

Mallory Franklin did everything right, went down the course in a fantastic time, then you have to stand there in the tent and watch everyone else come down and gradually they reshuffle the podium positions.

Then there’s a moment when you’re guaranteed a medal, then it’s still up for grabs right at the end.

But hats off to Jess Fox. A champion’s performance. Not easy when you know exactly what’s required of you, sitting in the start gate, as the last one to go.

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