Dual 2018 World Champions Jessica Fox and Curtis McGrath OAM have taken home the top gongs at the Paddle Australia Annual Awards held in Sydney on Saturday (3 November 2018).
Dual Olympic medallist Jessica Fox won the Paddler of the Year – Olympic award while Paralympic Champion Curtis McGrath won the Paracanoeist of the Year award.
The pair headlined a stellar line-up of athletes, coaches, instructors, technical officials and volunteers, who were recognised for their outstanding achievements and efforts over the past year at the Annual Awards night hosted by Seven News Sydney’s sport presenter Jim Wilson at the Stamford Plaza Sydney Airport.
Paddle Australia’s greatest individual slalom paddler of all time, Jessica Fox, also received the prestigious President’s Award in recognition of her outstanding achievements this season, including double World Champion gold and the overall World Cup win in both the women’s K1 and C1 events.
“I didn’t expect a season like this! I go into each year wanting to improve, wanting to keep learning and just keep doing my best at competitions. It’s been the perfect season and the perfect world championships and it’s amazing to receive this recognition, Jess Fox said.
“I really enjoyed this season. We’ve had a great team, we’ve had a great tour with lots of good results from the athletes. It’s quite a young team coming through with some good energy and I had the best year.
“I’m so grateful for all the support I receive from everyone at Paddle Australia, from the community, all those people who put in the work to run the races at Penrith, our volunteers, our officials, my family and our team of coaches and this evening has been wonderful to celebrate everyone who’s a part of it.
“Thank you to the whole Paddle Australia staff, our slalom team for the amazing evening and congratulations to all the other award winners and finalists.”
Fox dedicated her award to her late grandfather, her mother Myriam’s father and French Olympic medal winning slalom coach Albert Tobelem, who passed away in Marseille, France last week.
“I would like to dedicate this to my pépé Bebert, who I know was very proud of us and I know Noemie (Fox) and I will always be on the water and he will be with us.”
Fox also received the Coach of the Year Award on behalf of her mother and National Canoe Slalom Coach Myriam Fox (NSW), who was recognised for the success of her group of female athletes this season with all of them posting career best performances.
“Thank you very much on behalf of Myriam, who unfortunately can’t be with us tonight as she had to head to France. Her dad, my grandfather, was a massive influence on her as an athlete and as a coach and we are here because of him. He was at the riverbank until the very end and mum’s got the same passion and the same drive as him. She gives a lot to her sport and her athletes and I’m looking forward to another great year ahead and another two years as well,” Fox said paying tribute to both her mum and grandfather.
The Paddler Of the Year – Olympic as well as the President’s Award recognise a season of a life-time for Jessica Fox, who wrote sporting history this year, breaking several records in the process and becoming the most successful individual slalom paddler and greatest female slalom paddler in the history of the sport – all at the young age of 24.
Paralympic Champion Curtis McGrath OAM (QLD) also had a record-breaking season, finishing the season unbeaten and setting World records in the Paralympic events he competed in.
He not only won both the KL2 and VL3 200 events at the 2018 Paracanoe World Cup but also at the 2018 ICF Paracanoe World Championships adding World Champion titles seven and eight to his name.
Unconquered, McGrath is the most successful male Paracanoeist in the world of paddling and his impressive medal tally over the short period of only four years in the sport, now includes Paralympic gold, eight World Championships gold and one silver medal as he prepares for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Paddle Australia’s future is looking bright with a long list of high-performing Junior paddlers amongst the finalists.
Slalom paddler Alexandria Choate (WA) won the Junior Paddler of the Year – Olympic Award after her best career result yet and a fifth place in the junior women’s C1 at the 2018 ICF Canoe Slalom Junior and U23 World Championships.
2017 Ocean Racing Junior World Champion and winner of the 2017/18 U19 Australian Ocean Racing Series Oscar Jones (NSW) won the Junior Paddler of the Year – Non-Olympic Award, while Youth Olympic Games representative Jenaya Massie (QLD) took home the popular People’s Choice Award.
“The Youth Olympic Games was an incredible experience. I just love sport, everything about it, competing, pushing myself as well as the social side as well, seeing everyone and meeting people like Jess,” 16-year old Massie said.
“My hopes are the 2024 Olympics. I know it’s a big goal, but I’ll try my best, train hard and we’ll see how I go,” Massie said about her aspirations.
National team slalom paddler Rosalyn Lawrence (NSW) was recognised for her efforts as a Junior Development Coach based at the Penrith Whitewater Stadium with the 2018 Award of Merit, which is awarded for outstanding achievement in paddling in either administration or sporting endeavour.
Dual Olympian Ramon Andersson (WA), Thomas Blaam (NSW) and Roger French (SA) were recognised for their Services to Paddling.
You can find out more about the additional award winners HERE