James Fox successfully defended his Paralympic title in the PR3 mixed coxed four at the Tokyo 2020 Games last Sunday. Riding the wave of this stunning success, James shares his diary from Tokyo below
The PR3 mixed coxed four won gold at the recent Paralympic Games, but for crew member James Fox this was a second incredible gold after winning five years ago at the 2016 Rio Games.
He reflects on an amazing few days in Tokyo below.
Thursday 26 August 2021
After five years of coaxing and tricking my mind into thinking we’ll be racing the Paralympics soon we now officially are. Tomorrow we kick off our campaign on the Sea Forest Waterway, a year later than expected.
I am beside myself with excitement, but I’m also feeling a bit nervous. We haven’t raced much over the past two years for obvious reasons, and we have very little idea of what sort of form the other nations will be in.
Canada look good, France look pretty solid too. We haven’t seen much of the USA – I think they must be training at different times to us, but they’ve come second to us for six years and I read somewhere that this is Dani’s (Hansen) last pop before retiring, so they’re bound to have a fire in their bellies.
Really looking forward to it though, I keep spontaneously smiling to myself when I think about it.
Friday 27 August 2021
Okay, good start. We won our heat and there was never anybody that looked like they would challenge, so it was good to get a run down the track to practise our race plan. That headwind though!!
We’ve been told every day for the past two months that the conditions in Tokyo will be a fast tail wind so EVERY piece we’ve done in the run-up has been with a tail wind, so my legs were not expecting that.
We’ve watched the race back and are given feedback as a crew and there is plenty to work on for the final. It was a solid performance and we can’t argue with winning by 19 seconds, but the Americans won’t be that kind to us and we need to sort some things out before we go to race them.
Hopefully we’ve got rid of some nerves out there today and we can settle on to something a bit more solid in the final.
Saturday 28 August 2021
After yesterday’s excitement I just want to get going again, so this waiting around for the final is feeling pretty unwelcome.
We’ve done a short paddle with a couple of bursts this morning to keep the lungs open; we’ve just watched Ben (Pritchard) get through to the final from his repechage and now we’re in the village for the rest of the day.
I’m not even nervous at this point – I just can’t wait to go out there, put in a really solid performance, get our catches in on the front end, pin out the finish, have a bit of a tussle with the USA and ultimately break them around the 1k mark and come home with the win. Maybe a Paralympic Best Time too. I’ve probably been thinking about this too much.
Sunday 29 August 2021 – finals day
Not the perfect race and I don’t really remember our medal podium because I was so wrecked from the race, but the film crew will handle that. I am just so so so chuffed and incredibly proud of the guys – they did a great job.
Wednesday 1 September 2021
What a whirlwind.
We waited five years for a seven-minute race and 22 hours later we flew home to England.
I haven’t stopped since the final; we raced, went straight to do some interviews, quick shower, back to the village for more interviews, packed our bags, passenger locator forms, Covid tests, vaccination certificates, first bit of food since a very nervous breakfast, bed, early alarm, airport, get some sleep on the flight home, more interviews, a proper celebration with my friends in Henley, bed for the foreseeable future.
I am totally elated and completely exhausted.
I’m so proud of myself, my crew and our coaches. The past five years, in particular the last two, have been really brutal at times, but we made it.
Double Paralympic champion feels pretty good.
Photo: ParalympicsGB / Imagecomms