Speakers Profile - Jessica Fox

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Jess was born into kayaking royalty in Marseille, France, on June 11, 1994. Her parents are Richard Fox and Myriam Fox-Jerusalmi; both Olympians from England and France respectively, who hold 18 individual world titles between them.

The Fox family moved to Australia when Jess was four, and the youngster quickly grew into a talented athlete. But although Jess showed interest and promise in the kayak, it was never a sure thing that she would follow in her parents slipstream, and she actually began her sporting career swimming and as a talented gymnast.

After breaking her arm during a gymnastics routine when she was around 11 years old, it was her physio who suggested she attempted paddling again to help strengthen her arm. "So I got back in the kayak and I was then at that age to be able to go out on the white water rapids, and that's when I started to really enjoy it," she says.

By the time she turned 13, Jess was beating competitors five years her senior. Before long she was a five-time Junior World Champion. During her final year of school, and with her mum as her coach, Jess won a silver medal at the London Games, and the then 18-year-old was quickly touted as the next international superstar.

At Rio, Jess secured a bronze medal and by 2018, through myriad individual World Cup podiums and results, she became the most successful athlete in her sport of all time (overtaking the achievements of both her mother and father in the process). Jess continued to grow her world championship title collection, taking home her first gold and a bronze at the Tokyo games in 2021, as the world watched on in admiration.

On dry land, Jess is also studying an MBA in communications and is a sought-after motivational speaker, though she has no plans to hang up the paddles any time soon. "I feel like there are a few of us women who've just been pushing up the level of our sport, getting closer to the men's way of paddling and their speed," she says. "So that's something that's always exciting for me, to push those limits and try to challenge the boys, I guess, and keep evolving my technique."