One of Britain’s most successful Canoe Sprint paddlers Jon Schofield has announced that this year will be his last competitive season after securing a new role at the Scottish Canoe Association.
Jon hopes to compete in the first two ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup events in Poznan and Duisburg in May before taking up his new position full time as Head of Performance and Pathways in June.
The move comes after a highly successful career, where Schofield won 24 international men’s K2 200m medals at every level, including bronze at the London 2012 Olympic Games and silver at Rio 2016.
He said: “It is a really big move for me, moving around from being a full time professional athlete as the main focus in my life, but this role and opportunity was really for me the right time to give something back, to challenge myself in a different area and to make the most of what I've learnt during that time.
"It's been a wonderful career, there's been highs and lows but I've shared a lot of that with a great team, some great coaches, great mentors and friends so I’m moving onto the next level of my life with a bit of a heavy heart, there's always desires to push onto the next level, in this case Tokyo but I did get the feeling it was time for a new chapter to start for me.”
“It will be a privilege to work in sport as a career. Sport has given me so much and I've been looking for a way to be involved in that once I stopped competing. To do that within canoeing is the absolute dream.”
“It is a dream role that will enable me to impact and work with athletes and performance staff across a range of areas. When this role came up it was absolutely the right fit for me,” added Jon.
Jon had his first taste of canoeing as a cub scout before breaking onto the Wild Water Racing scene culminating in numerous international medals, including junior world championship gold, overall world cup winner in 2006 and European Champion in 2007.
Turning to the Olympic discipline of Canoe Sprint Jon narrowly missed out on the Beijing 2008 Games which led to a partnership with Liam Heath being formed in 2009.
The duo clicked and after a solid winter of training the pair burst onto the international circuit winning gold medals at two World Cup events and became European Champions in their first season. They then went on to pick up bronze at the World Championships.
Since the 200m events were introduced in 2009 the pair have been consistently on the podium. They are three-times European Champions and have won silver and bronze medals at the World Championships and multiple medals in the World Cup series.
The pair then won back to back Olympic medals at London 2012 and Rio 2016, winning bronze and silver respectively, making them the most successful British K2 sprint pairing in Olympic history.
With the men’s K2 200m taken out of the Olympic programme for Tokyo, Jon’s focus more recently has been on the K1 200m and the K4 500m, before his 'dream role came up'.
Liam Heath MBE said: "This is such fantastic and exciting news, both for Jon and for the sport. His knowledge and understanding of canoeing is second to none and I don’t know anyone more passionate about the sport than Jon.
"As a crew we had a really successful partnership. We gelled straight away and realised quickly that we had the same approach and mentality to reach our shared goal. Technically he is exceptional and made it easy for me to do my job, not only in the K2 but also when he trained alongside me in the K1. He is a selfless training partner and generous with his time to help other athletes.
Jon's work ethic and approach to training is incredible and I am very privileged and honoured to have paddled with him– Liam Heath MBE
"Jon's work ethic and approach to training is incredible and I am very privileged and honoured to have paddled with him. His passion and professionalism was unrivalled, he looked at every aspect of the programme, which was only enhanced by his MSC in Human Performance and knowledge of Biomechanics (future PhD). It’s was like having a coach on the bank and in the boat.
"Because Jon throws his heart and soul into all he does, I have no doubt he will lead his colleagues and athletes to success both for Scotland and GB."
He will leave a legacy as one of the most successful canoe sprinters in British history, with back to back Olympic medals.– Paul Ratcliffe, Performance Director at British Canoeing
Paul Ratcliffe, Performance Director at British Canoeing, said: “Jon has had a fantastic career as an elite athlete and has been an inspirational role model in our sport. He will leave a legacy as one of the most successful canoe sprinters in British history, with back to back Olympic medals.
“I am looking forward to continuing our working relationships with him in his new role. His professionalism, commitment and passion for canoeing has been evident throughout his career and I have no doubt that he will bring those attributes alongside his forensic attention to detail to develop the canoeing programmes at the SCA.
“On behalf of the performance programme here at British Canoeing, I’d like to wish him all the best of luck in his future careers and we will continue to support him as he transitions from our programme onto a professional career.”