Clitheroe kayak star moves nearer London 2012 Olympic dream

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THE glistening sun that often overlooks Eton’s Lake Dorney bears a resemblance to the medal that kayak star Jon Schofield is eyeing up at London 2012.

The man-made Olympic home of British flat-water canoeing and rowing, situated beside the Thames, will hopefully be the location where Schofield and partner Liam Heath race to gold for Great Britain in the K2 200m sprint.

The 26-year-old from Clitheroe, a former white-water canoe slalom world No.1, said: “I think we would be letting ourselves down if we don’t consider ourselves capable of winning in London.

“Numerous races over the last two years have proved that we are one of the top crews in the world.

“However, we won’t take anything for granted and will simply throw everything we have at that Olympic final.”

It was almost fate that drew the pair together.

Schofield had failed to qualify for Beijing in the longer-distance events, and the decision in 2009 to include the 200m trip in the Olympics for the first time in the country’s capital played right into Schofield’s hands.

And he’s grabbed that chance.

Since their union, Schofield and Heath have won two World Cup events and the European Championships.

Last year, they retained their European crown and took silver in the World Championships.

Schofield said: “I absolutely feel blessed. It was a fantastic chance that came at the right time for me.

“Myself and Liam are fortunate that we both share similar interests and have compatible personalities, as we spend most of the year in hotel rooms together around the world,

“Physiologically speaking, we were very compatible in the boat from the first session, as we have similar characteristics as athletes also.”

But before their dreams of a podium finish in front of a home crowd can be realised, the duo have three trials in which to qualify for the Games.

However, by finishing second in the World Championships, the duo have already qualified the boat for the Olympics.

The three-race format consists of a national regatta in Nottingham on April 14th and 15th before two World Cup races in Poznan, Poland, between May 6th and 8th, and Duisburg, Germany, between May 27th and 29th. They have to win one.

Schofield added: “Training has been great so far this winter.

“We have got a huge volume of work done and are starting to reap the rewards.

“The trials are a best-of-three race format, one national regatta and two world cup races.

“The first selection race is the national regatta held in Nottingham on April 14th-15th.

“As we qualified the place for GB at the Olympics, we only have to win one of these three races to get selected as the GB boat.”

Once a place has been confirmed, the pair will warm up for the biggest moment of their lives with the European Championships in Belgrade in mid-June.