How a condom denied Team GB's Mallory Franklin an Olympic canoeing gold

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Australia's Jessica Fox (centre), Great Britain's Mallory Franklin (left) and Germany's Andrea Herzog (right) show off their medals - PA
Australia's Jessica Fox (centre), Great Britain's Mallory Franklin (left) and Germany's Andrea Herzog (right) show off their medals - PA

Jessica Fox, the Australian canoeist who beat Britain's Mallory Franklin to Olympic gold, has a condom to thank for her double medal success in Tokyo.

The 27-year-old claimed bronze in the K1 event on Tuesday and then two days later was crowned the first Olympic champion, ahead of silver medallist Franklin, in the women's C1.

And it turns out she was paddling with an extra layer of protection after a video emerged from last week showing her and her team carrying out crucial pre-competition repairs to the end of her kayak, using a rather different method.

"Bet you never knew condoms could be used for kayak repairs," Fox captioned her now-viral TikTok video.

In the video, a member of her staff is seen adding a carbon-fibre patch to the nose of her kayak, which is flipped upside down on two chairs, and then the condom is stretched gradually over the top to secure the patch in place.

"Very stretchy. Much strong. It gives the carbon a smooth finish," Fox, the now four-time Olympic medallist, then wrote with a laughing emoji.

Her inventive methods were met with acclaim on social media with one Instagram commenter writing: "Engineer's mind. Bravo!" and another writing: "You learn something new every day."

As well as a win for Franklin, Olympic organisers will no doubt be glad that one of the Games-issued condoms is getting put to use outside of the athlete's village as they had intended, albeit not for the reason they were hoping.

The village has become notorious for casual relationships between competitors but such acts are being discouraged at these Games as part of social distancing measures to try and restrict the spread of coronavirus.

At the last Games in Rio, 450,000 condoms were distributed through vending machines featuring the message: "Celebrate with a Condom." This time there will be only 150,000, all handed out when athletes leave for home immediately after competing.

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