12:57PM, Thursday 29 July 2021
Photo credit: Garry Bowden
Windsor’s Mallory Franklin produced an excellent run in the final of the women’s C1 canoe slalom this morning (Thursday) to get her hands on a well-earned silver medal.
Franklin was sixth fastest heading into the final after a mixed performance in the semis, but she had laid down two of the quickest times in Wednesday’s heats, so knew she had the speed and technical proficiency to be in with a chance of a medal.
She was one of the first athletes to take on the course in the final and posted a time that put pressure on her rivals to come, including the favourite, Australia’s Jess Fox.
The 27-year-old’s time of 1.08.68 included a two second penalty for striking the 15th of the 25 gates on the course, but it was good enough to move her up into provisional gold medal position with five competitors still to do their runs.
Four of them fell short of Franklin’s time, but Fox, the world number one, produced a clean run and a quick time of 1.05.04 to take gold from the Windsor athlete, with Germany’s Andrea Herzog taking the bronze medal.
“Other than the touch, I don't remember that much of it,” she told the BBC. “I definitely remember the touch and being present in what was going on at the time. But it was really cool.
“It's so stressful being up there on the starting line. I had a moment where I thought this is cool and thought I wouldn't want to be anywhere else right now.
“The camera was panning around me, and I caught a glimpse of it and just smiled. It reminded me of the environment and how crazy it all is, but it’s really cool.
“I think I knew with the touch that I didn’t lose any time with it, and I managed to get a nice curl with it anyway and was in and out of the next gate pretty quickly, so it was easier to keep building from there. I knew just to keep on focusing on the next gate and if I could get through it anything could happen.”
Franklin spent quite a long time with a provisional gold medal around her neck, watching as four of her competitors, who’d gone quicker in the semi-final, knocked gates, or paddled down the course in a slightly slower time than her. However, when Fox started taking ‘chunks’ out of her time, she knew she’d have to settle for silver. Franklin has struggled to produce her best runs in this year’s finals, so to lay down a marker for her competition in Tokyo is a real morale boost as she looks ahead to future competitions and the Paris Olympics in 2024.
“It’s weird,” she said. “I hate sitting there and watching other people go and you don’t know what’s going to happen.
“And then people like Jess come down and they’re constantly taking chunks (of time) and I didn’t know what was going to happen.
“I don’t know which way I’d rather have it. It’s probably not very nice sitting on the start line with everything that’s happened either. But it was cool to be in that situation, watching everyone paddle and knowing you’ve done a good run.
“I think for me, personally, I’ve had some struggles in my finals this year, so to put down a run of that quality, even with the touch, is just amazing. That’s what I’m going to take away from here. It’s amazing to have the medal and I also hope people see C1 women as an event that’s really high class as there was some amazing paddling out there.”
Canoe slalom was first introduced at the 1972 Olympics, but this was the first time the women's C1 competition has been staged at a Games.
On her prospects of competing for Team GB in Paris, Franklin added: “Paris? I hope so. I’ve got kayak to think about as well, and hopefully I’ll be in Paris in both boats.
“Right now, it’s about celebrating this and then I’ll get home to do kayak selection next weekend, which is a bit crazy.”