Sprinting towards that 2012 medal

Jon Schofield
Jon Schofield

SAWLEY canoeist Jon Schofield announced himself among the best in Europe last year – and Olympic champion Tim Brabants believes his first taste of success won’t be his last.

The 26-year-old demonstrated his growing potential alongside K2 partner Liam Heath last year, winning 200m gold at the European Championships in Spain, as well as world bronze.

And Schofield and Heath are showing no signs of slowing down with their first outing of 2011 in Poland, the first of three Canoe Sprint World Cup legs, resulting in a second-place finish.

Brabants knows what it takes to succeed at the highest level, having become the first Brit ever to win Olympic canoeing gold in 2008, and he insists Schofield has what it takes to follow suit.

“Jonny really announced himself last year with a gold medal at the Europeans, and he and Liam have what it takes to build on that towards London 2012,” said Brabants, who has joined Rebecca Adlington and Shanaze Reade as part of a team of Cadbury Athlete Ambassadors.

“Jonny has been involved in down-river racing for a while – which is a non-Olympic event he came across – and went into sprinting a while back now, and has been doing really well.

“They have started the year really well and are only going to get better as the year gets going; I am predicting them to have a big 2011 and rubber stamp their Olympic spots.

“They are definitely ones to watch out for in London 2012, and if people don’t really know their names at the moment then they will do after London.”

Schofield and Heath’s recent triumphs have benefited from a change in the Olympic programme that saw the 500m, their previous event, dropped for the shorter 200m to enhance spectator excitement.

And it is the cohesion between the pair in this switch of distances that gives Brabants, who won Olympic K1 1000m gold in Beijing, hope that Schofield will join him in climbing the podium at London 2012.

“I think they complement each other really well and a two -man crew is all about working in unison; they picked it up really quickly and it just grew from there,” he added.

“They are exciting to watch and they work great together as a team, and we saw that at the World Cup in Poland as they finished second in the first race of the season.

“They took the change of distances from 500m to 200m really in their stride, that was impressive, and they can certainly carry this on all the way to London 2012.”

• AS part of his role as an Athlete Ambassador for Cadbury’s London 2012 programme, Brabants will be encouraging and inspiring employees taking part in a wide range of volunteering opportunities.