Jon’s Olympic gold dream

editorial image
Share this article

Growing up in leafy Clitheroe, you wouldn’t list freshwater canoeing in your top-10 local hobbies.

But an adventure day out with the Cub Scouts spawned one boy’s dream of Olympic gold.

Jon Schofield has never looked back since he first took to the water all those years ago.

“I was lucky enough to be paddling down the lake with the Cubs one morning, and some people that did racing kayaking came along and asked if I wanted to give it a go.

“Literally from that week onwards, my dad took me to train with them every weekend and I’ve never looked back.”

And that’s because he’s always been looking forward!

The early prowess, Schofield showed on the water indicated the potential of what he could achieve.

He said: “It was relatively clear from a young age. My coach gave me the ambition from the beginning.

“In our sport you can look at times and easily figure out what you should be achieving in training in order to become a world junior champion.”

This was something that he achieved in 2002, a fantastic accolade and precursor to many future successes.

It sounds like such a simple story, but it hasn’t happened by accident.

Gruelling training regimes have paid huge dividends for both Jon and his current K2 partner, Liam Heath.

Schofield said: “In the winter, it’s pretty horrendous.

“It’s not designed to make you feel good, we go deep into our energy reserves.

“This year, in Australia, we trained four times a day, which is the most I’ve done.”

It’s this dedication and effort that has seen the pair clock up victory at the European Championships in 2010, but they’re not resting on their laurels.

Even though they are currently the top rated pair in Great Britain and Europe, they are striving for improvement.

Schofield said: “I do enough things wrong technically I can improve them, I’ve got a lot of gains to make in this aspect.

“Me and Liam are still relatively young and inexperienced, so we can still make technical gains.”

And Schofield is hoping that these improvements are on board in time for them to achieve their ultimate goal – the Olympics in London next year.

The magnitude of the event is blatantly apparent to Schofield, who said: “It would be pretty huge for me.

“In terms of personal ambition, there isn’t any other opportunity I will get in my lifetime to compete on such a big stage in front of a home crowd.”

But even with such a momentous occasion imminent, he isn’t letting it distract his focus from what needs to be done first.

He said: “Without a doubt, we’re setting our sights on the gold medal, but at the moment we’re in the unfortunate position where we have to qualify.

“If you don’t make that your short-term objective, then you can be in danger of not qualifying at all.”

And so all eyes are on this year’s World Championships, where Schofield and Heath need to achieve a top-six finish in order to qualify.

The partnership they’ve formed is so strong that rivals are finding it hard to compete with then.

Couple that with the drive and focus of a world class competitor, this man from East Lancashire will undoubtedly leave rivals in his wake as he r-oars to success.