A YOUNG boy found his calling in life at a canoeing taster session with the Clitheroe Scouts.

Jon Schofield, 27, who stormed to Olympic bronze medal success on Saturday started in the water aged just nine.

Like most boys, he enjoyed playing football with the village clubs. When he moved to Spain aged six he took up taekwondo and later judo.

It wasn’t until he came back to Clitheroe with parents Maggie and Peter, both 56, that he joined the Chatburn Cubs where he took part in a taster session.

Dad Peter, who lives in Sawley, said: “He was always comfortable around water. He was about four when he learned to swim.

“He tried a lot of sports but something clicked with him and canoeing. He had the taster session with the cubs when he was about nine and joined a club almost immediately. Canoeing is something he has a real passion for.

“He was a lot younger than everyone else when he took it up properly.

“He trained several times a week and started to compete across the North West in scout races. Clitheroe was a centre of excellence for canoeing. It was a natural progression into national competition.”

Peter said Jon competed in relay races and wild water canoe races and then individual time trials.

“He enjoyed the excitement of the speed of the canoe and the water. It was exciting and challenging.”

He said Jon was world junior champion in 2002, and went on to win the world cup series in 2006 and the European championship in wild water canoeing – moving his focus to canoe sprint because wild water canoeing was not an Olympic sport.

Peter said: “He had got as far as he could in wild water canoeing.

“He immediately excelled at the sprint because he has explosive speed. The following season, he and his canoeing partner won the 200m world cup series.”

Jon met his current kayak partner at Loughborough University, but they were paired together in the event through a canoeing club.

“They just clicked. They are good friends outside of training as well.”

Jonnie was cheered on by his parents, brother and sisters, nephews Jack and Luke, and all his coaches and their families.

  • OLYMPIC bronze medalist Jon Schofield said he hoped his success would inspire others to see canoeing and kayaking as a ‘sexy sport’.

The 27-year-old’s family travelled to Eton Dorney in London for the event on Saturday morning.

After a tough qualifying Jon and his partner Liam Heath held on for a third place finish in the 200 metre event.

Dad, Peter Schofield, of Sawley, said: “It was a very exciting day, and it was a fantastic result.

“Jonnie and Liam did extremely well against tough opposition, and I know they are both very pleased to get a medal.

“I’ve been down for most of the week, and the atmosphere in the crowd was brilliant. I felt very proud – you could hear the fantastic support for Jonnie and all of the other British athletes.”

Speaking yesterday Jon said: “If people enjoy watching it and want to have a go, that’s fine by us.

“I started in the Cub Scouts having fun in the summer. You don’t start out wanting to win Olympic gold, but if you’re doing something that you enjoy, it’s easy to carry on.

“Hopefully this will be seen as a sexy sport, and will have the same success as sprinting does on the track.”