Former University of Bedfordshire student, Mallory Franklin, made history this morning as she was one of the first ever female medalists in the new canoeing slalom C-1 event at the Olympic Games.
Having studied sports therapy at the Bedford campus from 2012 to 2016, Franklin won a silver medal in the event – only previously competed in by men – in Toyko in the early hours of the morning.
Franklin, who already has a World Championship, European Championship and World Cup gold medal in her trophy cabinet, finished second behind Australia’s Jessica Fox to cement herself as a leading light in the sport.
Her time of 108.68 was comfortably ahead of Germany’s Andrea Herzog in bronze, but was 3.5 seconds slower than Australia’s new gold medalist.
For the 27-year old however, the journey to the Olympic Games has been one two decades in the making:
Talking to University of Bedfordshire, she said: “I got into canoeing when I was five years old.”
“We were visiting a local leisure centre to see if any sports interested my older brother and next door the canoe club was having an open day with a barbecue. After having a go, I haven’t stopped since!”
“I was really pleased when I saw women’s C-1 get added to the schedule. I compete in kayaking too, so the Games were always my target, but to be able to compete in both is amazing.”
“I think for any girl seeing someone just like them achieving great things is inspiring, I know it was for me when I was younger.”
Bedford has a strong history of producing canoeists and kayaking; most notably with Etienne Stott who won Olympic gold for Team GB at London 2012.
A gold post box now adorns St. Paul’s Square, and Stott also had the local white water arena renamed after him, with the Etienne Stott White Water Arena now a well-viewed fixture on Bedford’s river bank.
With plenty of years left in Franklin’s tank, there may well be a further chance for Olympic gold in Paris 2024 but Mallory has certainly etched her name in the record books this time around.