Peterborough’s ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ has his sights set high ahead of the Tokyo Paralympics
Reigning Paralympic rowing champion James Fox isn’t just settling for another Paralympic gold medal this summer – he has his eyes on a new world record.
Fox (29), who attended Jack Hunt School in Peterborough and rowed for Peterborough City as a youngster, is the only member of the mixed four who earned a memorable triumph in Rio to be returning for another shot at the Games, with crewmates Ellen Buttrick, Giedre Rakauskaite, Ollie Stanhope and Erin Kennedy (cox) all making their Paralympic debuts in Tokyo.
They will enter the contest as favourites for gold having added the European crown in May to their World Championship glory in 2019 when the British quartet set the current world record time of 6:49.240 at the semi-final stage.
Fox is confident his crew can raise the bar further as he seeks to cement his own Paralympic legacy.
“Our aim in Tokyo is to win, but also to set a world record,” Fox said. “If we go unbeaten this year, we will have been unbeaten for 11 years.
“A lot of people would find it easy to get a bit comfortable and go slower, but we try and push standards to be better than anybody there’s ever been. That’s why we turn up at 7am and go out in the cold and wet in winter.
“It was amazing to get back out there at the Europeans, our first race in almost two years, and to win it against some of the best crews in the world made it that bit better.
“We won by a fair margin, but it’s probably going to be closer in Tokyo so we need to keep our foot on the gas.”
Fox is one of over 1,000 athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class programme, which allows him and his teammates to train full time, access the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.
And despite adding his name to those who have earned the 864 Olympic and Paralympic medals won by GB athletes since the advent of National Lottery funding in 1997 with his success in Rio five years ago, Fox is determined to truly embrace the experience this time around.
“I didn’t really enjoy the run-up to Rio,” Fox admitted. “I was incredibly nervous. I didn’t get a chance to enjoy it and I probably went slower as a result.
“The key message to the guys this time is to just chill out and let the boat do what it wants to do. A happy crew is a fast crew.
“Coming out of Rio with a gold is my proudest moment. It really was life-changing for me and hopefully this year’s team will experience the same.”
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