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Rough seas for Fox as golden hopes turn bronze

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It wasn’t the colour Australia or Jessica Fox expected, but the canoe slalom star insists she is pleased to come away from the Rio Olympics with the bronze.

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Fox entered the event as the gold medal favourite after falling short in the K1 final at the Whitewater Stadium in Deodoro, and a big Australian gathering of fans and media turned out for what many expected to be a locked-in gold medal for Australia.

But it was Fox’s friend and sometimes paddling partner Maialen Chourraut from Spain who stole the show, winning gold ahead of New Zealand’s Luuka Jones in very windy conditions.

“The only one missing now is the gold medal and I’m more motivated than ever,” Fox said.

“The lead-up to Rio, there has been a lot more expectation and lot more pressure but that’s something that I’ve taken in my stride.

“I’ve had expectations on myself and I wanted to win that gold medal.

“To be on the podium again is pretty special because not many women are back up on the podium at the Olympics.”

The Spaniard Chourraut was electrifying, ripping the course up with a score of 98.65 to Jones’ (101.82) and ahead of Fox (102.49)

Two competitors before Chourraut hit the water, Fox, starting sixth in the field of 10, crossed the line for a 100.49, eclipsing Jones into the gold medal position before copping a two-point penalty for touching a gate, which the Australian admitted was a fair call.

There was no bitterness from Fox who was happy for her friend who she admitted was too good on the day.

“I’m thrilled for her, she really paddled well today. I don’t think I rivalled her today, she was incredible and I’m so happy for her and to be on the podium next to her,” she said.

The favoured men’s quad scull also added to Australia’s medal haul but came up just short of gold.

Karsten Forsterling, Sasha Belonogoff, Cameron Girdlestone and James McRae ran headlong into the reigning Olympic and world champions from Germany overnight and walked away with the silver medal.

The fast-finishing Australian crew sat slumped in their boat in disappointment after crossing the line just 0.15 seconds behind Germany.

“If we knew it was going to be such a strong headwind we might have altered the gearing but the Germans’ race plan was best on the day,” McRae said.

“They had to do something pretty special to beat us and they did that.”

Marcus Fraser took full advantage of his late call-up to the golf competition, carding an eight-under 63 at Barra de Tijuca to hold a three-shot lead after the opening round.

Jason Day and Adam Scott were among the leading Australians to give Rio a miss as golf made its return to the Olympic program after a 112-year absence.

But world No.90 Fraser was thrilled to get the chance to don the green and gold.

“It’s great to walk in here and have the Olympic record,” he said.

A last-minute winner from Roberta Bianconi condemned Australia to an 8-7 loss to Italy in the women’s water polo.

The defeat saw the Australians slip to second in their group ahead of a final preliminary-round clash with the host nation on Sunday.

“This loss is not something we’re going to take too much to heart,” said Australian captain Bronwen Knox.

“We do need to learn from it.

“In the history of Olympic water polo no one has made it through unscathed without drawing or dropping a game in that first week.”

Sailing cousins Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin sit atop the Nacra 17 rankings after five races, two points ahead of Great Britain.

-AAP

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