One of the longest standing members of the Great Britain Canoe Sprint team, Rachel Schofield has called time on her career after more than 15 years in the sport.
Rachel was ‘found by the sport’ after a chance assembly at school led to her being talent spotted as a 15-year-old. She joined Wey Kayak Club and quickly progressed, making her first international appearance in 2007. Rachel went on to forge a long and successful career winning 19 international medals.
“I’ve been paddling for 15 years and it has been an incredible time,” she said. “Coming to the end of it now and looking back has given me a chance to review what a life changing experience it’s been.
“I always knew it was going to be hard to know when to stop and when to make that call because I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving the sport. I don’t have any intention to stop canoeing, for me it’s more of a change in focus.
“There are so many things I love about canoeing, initially it was the chance to race and push myself, and I just love being outside. You get to see a secret world from the river, which a lot of people don’t get to see. There’s a lot of wildlife around, it’s a really special place.”
In 2010, Rachel went on to become Britain’s first woman to medal at both the European and World Championships where she won bronze in the Olympic distance, K1 500m. She also competed at both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games in the K1 500 and K4 500m events.
When asked, Rachel said there wasn’t one particularly memory that stood out, but that it was the friendships within the training environment that she will remember most fondly.
“Racing at Eton Dorney at the London 2012 Olympic Games was a once in a lifetime, amazing experience, right from the opening ceremony, being part of Team GB and then racing in the finals. But I think the thing I will look back on and cherish will be the day to day training with such a good group of girls and guys. It’s been really cool to have Jonnie involved in the sport. To have my husband training alongside me, it’s been great.
“There is no way I would’ve have been able to have this experience without the funding from the National Lottery. It allowed me to train full time for years, which has been a privilege. I really hope to stay in the sport and Id’ love to be able to share the experience and knowledge I’ve been able to pick up over the years.”
Rachel most recently medalled in 2017, winning bronze in the K1 1000m at both the World and European Championships but in addition to her full time training, she has also been studying Horticulture and Garden Design. Most recently, she has been working as a garden designer and this year worked at the Chelsea Flower Show.
Paul Ratcliffe, Performance Director for British Canoeing, paid tribute to Rachel and her fantastic career.
“Rachel has had a long and illustrious career as part of the British Canoeing international canoe sprint team, competing for Great Britain in almost 40 senior events and winning 19 medals.
“I hope that she continues to be an ambassador for our sport and an excellent role model for aspiring paddlers of all ages.
I hope that she continues to be an ambassador for our sport and an excellent role model for aspiring paddlers of all ages.– Paul Ratcliffe, performance director at British Canoeing
“On behalf of British Canoeing I would like to wish her all the best in her next step and know that if she puts the level of focus and determination into that, as she did on the water, she will be a great success.”