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Mallory Franklin was jumping with delight today after her fight for gender equality at the Olympics was rewarded with a medal.
The 27-year-old from Windsor took silver in the C1 canoe slalom class.
Since canoe slalom was first introduced at the 1972 Olympics, there have been three categories for men to enter and just one for women.
But in Tokyo, for the first time, there has been gender parity among canoe slalom athletes — with Franklin called a “pioneer” by peers after pushing for it to be included.
She took her chance superbly, posting a brilliant run and navigating some tricky turns before facing a nervy wait to find out if she had become Olympic champion.
She was leading with one competitor to go, but was denied gold by favourite Jessica Fox.
Australia’s Fox is the daughter of Richard Fox, a British 10-time world champion who finished fourth in the men’s K1 at the 1992 Olympics.
Franklin said afterwards: “I’ve had a bit of a struggle in my finals this year so to be able to put down a run of that quality is amazing for me. It’s amazing to have the medal and I think that can mean so much to people and I hope people see C1 women now as an event that is really high class, there was some amazing paddling.”
Critics had fought against women taking part in all the canoe slalom events at the Olympics, claiming they were not strong enough to tackle the demanding courses. Franklin said: “Women generally have had less opportunity.
“There is a lot of history surrounding this. I am appreciative that I am able to be the person creating that history, even if it doesn’t actually change my job.”
Franklin becomes only the second British woman to win a medal in canoe slalom after Helen Reeves took bronze in the kayak K1 event in 2004.