At just 21, Katherine Copeland is the youngest female rower on Great Britain’s rowing team. She claimed victory with her partner Sophie Hosking at Eton Dorney in the womens Lightweight double scull. Their gold medal win earned Team GB their second medal for Britain’s rowers on “Super Saturday”. Their win was especially memorable for the look of shock and delight on the pair’s faces as they crossed the line to cheers from 30,000 spectators, prompting Katherine to mouth to Hosking: “We’ve won the Olympics”.
Here, Katherine tells us a little about what makes her tick, including the importance of family, friends and the occasional holiday to Italy…
One word that describes you? Indecisive!
In your own words, what do you do? I am a full-time athlete, funded by the National Lottery. I won a gold in rowing at the London 2012 Olympics.
Who is your greatest influence in your career/life? In my rowing, my coach James Harris – he built up my confidence and gave me the chance to realise my potential – if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be where I am today. In life my mother and father, I think I’m a bit of a daddy’s girl and I trust their advice more than anyone else’s.
Which is your favourite part of your job? Getting to do sport everyday! I get to go out every morning on the river which is beautiful, go on some great training camps abroad and train with my best friends. We have so much fun, so I just don’t think it could get any better than that.
Which is the part that you enjoy the least? During our high intensity training weeks you just feel sick the whole time, it’s so tiring all you want to do when we’re not training is sleep. These also usually coincide with winter so when you least want to go training you also have to get up in the dark and row outside when it’s snowing and your hands are aching from the cold.
What is your greatest achievement? Winning the London Olympics this summer in the lightweight women’s double sculls – I will never, ever forget the feeling of crossing the line – it was a mixture of shock and pure elation.
What was your Plan B? I went straight into rowing after finishing college, so I guess it would be to go to University and get a degree. I’ve never actually known what I wanted to do as a career though, I just really loved rowing and was lucky enough that it worked out for me.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given? I’m really into reading quotes – I have a daily quote app on my phone and follow a lot of quote tweeters on twitter! ‘You need three things in life – a wishbone, a funny bone and a backbone’’.
Please complete the sentence… I could not live without… My phone! I really want an iPhone next – It’s just so important for me to be able to ring my friends and family when I’m at training camp. Before the Olympics we were away for two months and I’m quite a home bird- I spoke to someone nearly every day as a little cheer-me-up.
Favourite restaurant? In which city? I love lots of places- I’m not a very fussy eater! Gaucho in Manchester does amazing steak. I love going to Italy and eating at the traditional trattorias you find down little streets – that’s my idea of food heaven. One time my family and I went to a restaurant in a little old ladies house near Tuscany; it was basically a living room with about 5 tables in, and everyone just ate whatever they were given. We weren’t sure how many courses there would be- we had seconds of the first and second course when offered, but regretted it when to our shock they ended up serving about 7 courses!
Do you support a charity or cause? I am a keen supporter of building up funds for young athletes and also the profile of sport in Teesside, my hometown, with a specific focus on girls in sport. Matt Wells, one of the men in the team, hosted a brilliant regatta the week after the Olympics which we all helped out at to raise funds to create a bursary for talented rowers in the North. I am currently trying to set up something similar but more permanent involving my rowing club at home.
What steps do you take to make your life more positive? I really believe that if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Anything I do I aim to do my best. I (nearly!) never procrastinate, as I feel a lot more relaxed when I don’t have jobs hanging over me. Especially over the last year or so, when the pressure was building towards the Olympics, I found the most important thing was to dedicate some time to making myself happy. For me, that came in the form of being sociable- even if it was just going to a friend’s house for dinner or a film. I think it’s really important to feel mentally refreshed as well as physically.