Jess Fox’s mum can’t remember the last thing she said to her daughter before her gold medal run in the canoe on Thursday.
Putting her hands on her face and looking mortified, Myriam said: “I don’t know. I’m sorry!”
When they reminisce about this day in the years to come, Fox will be able to remind her. “I told her that I’d thrown up,” Australia’s newest golden girl said, sparking a fit of laughter from the small group of Australian reporters she was chatting to.
“I was like, ‘I feel really good, but I just threw up, so I’ll be alright’. And then we fist bumped.”
Fox had to go around the back of a group of tents at Tokyo’s Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre to vomit out of sight, but she didn’t take it as a bad omen.
“Whatever I‘d had between the runs didn’t sit well and then I just thought, ‘OK, my body’s ready, that’s just my body telling me to get ready for something big’,” Fox said
“So it’s always about re-framing those things and putting it into a positive.”
Fox didn’t just get the monkey of her back on Thursday, she ripped it free and hurled it over the horizon, never to be seen again as the much-loved darling of the Australian Olympic team finally achieved the prize she craved most after nine years of trying.
A slip of the tongue from an Australian team official explaining what the procedure would be when “Jess” won her medal – before she’d even started her final run – caused them to hurriedly correct themselves by clarifying what would happen after whichever competitors ended up on the podium were confirmed.
“Oh God, I hope I didn’t jinx her,” the official said. They needn’t have worried.
Olympics live blog: Day 6 coverage
Silver in London in 2012 was followed by bronze after a controversial call by officials in Rio four years later. This was supposed to be Fox’s moment. But two out-of-character mistakes in the K-1 final on Tuesday relegated her to third spot and you started to wonder whether it simply wasn’t meant to be for the seven-time world championship gold medal winner, who also has seven World Cup titles on her resume.
“It doesn’t always go to plan and when you add the Olympics, the heightened emotion and stress and pressure and what it means, it’s once every four years so it’s very hard sometimes to race naturally,” she said.
“While I felt amazing in the kayak in the heats, in the semis, coming into that final I felt ready, I felt good and it just slipped away from me in those two gates and I was absolutely gutted to not do the run I wanted to in that moment.
“To come back from the kayak when I had conflicting emotions … and then re-living that race and coming back in the C-1 was really challenging.