Copeland weighs in on Olympic bid

Katherine Copeland of Great Britain . (AP Photo/Filip Horvat)
Katherine Copeland of Great Britain . (AP Photo/Filip Horvat)
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The very definition of a lightweight rower does not require a genius to explain.

The lightweight category gives average-sized individuals the ability to compete against their peers in a sport where, predominently, taller and bulkier competitors are the embodiment of what a rower should be.

So it comes as quite a surprise for Katherine Copeland – one of two Britons in the only women’s lightweight event – to confess that she was quite chubby as a youngster.

Not only that but her partner in the lightweight double sculls, Sophie Hosking, has also admitted to at one time being ‘chubby’, according to her team-mate Copeland.

“I remember the first time I went rowing I was a little bit chubby,” confesses 21-year-old Copeland who now weighs 59kg and stands 172cm tall.

“I thought I’d be useless and only went along because my friends were doing it.

“But my dad said I would be good at rowing because with that chubbiness I would have a lot of power.

“Sophie used to be a bit chubby as well.

“After a few sessions rowing, though, that soon gets the excess fat off.”

Those first days in a rowing boat at Tees Rowing Club came while Copeland was a student at the renowned Yarm School.

Seven years later and a more streamlined duo of Copeland and Hosking are set to be unleashed on the lake at Eton Dorney as they bid for Olympic gold.

It has been a quick rise for Copeland, who left her home in Stokesley, North Yorkshire, earlier this summer to decamp to the British squad’s base at Caversham in Berkshire.

The women’s team have also held preparation camps in Germany, where they worked on their endurance, and most recently in Italy, where the objective was a tapering of their stamina and finalising race technique.

During that time, Copeland and Hosking, 26, have been getting to know each other better.

Common pre-conceptions of a partnership in an Olympic Games would be that they have worked together for the entire four-year cycle.

But not Britain’s lightweight sculls pair. They were only thrust together in the Spring after excelling in the British trials, after Copeland came first and Hosking second.

“We only got put together in March,” says Copeland.

“Sophie and I knew each other for at least two years, had been on camps together and when you’re in that close environment of a camp you get to know each other very well.

“You share rooms with each other, you get to know each other very quickly.

“With Sophie and me it’s a case of opposites attract.

“We bring the best out of each other in different areas.

“I’m strong at things that she isn’t, and vice versa, so we really complement each other.

“Sophie is very experienced, has been in the boat for a long time, and brings a lot of knowledge.

“I bring that fresh perspective.”

Despite their relative inexperience, Copeland and Hosking burst out of the blocks at the start of the World Cup regatta season, finishing second in Belgrade.

Narrowly missing out on the medals in Lucerne, fifth, and Munich, fourth, kept expectations grounded but they at least demonstrated they were dovetailing well over the three regattas.

Copeland says: “The first race in Belgrade was our first international together and we were just happy to row well, so the silver was really a bonus.

“Fot Lucerne and Munich, we don’t train to come fourth or fifth, so we were disapppointed, but with the World Cups everyone was at a different phase of their training so it was hard to gauge.

“Plus, it’s all about London and you’d swap that for anything.

“We don’t worry about what other people are doing, whether they are beating us here or losing to us there.

“But the World Cup series has left us quietly confident.”

For a wide-eyed 21-year-old the enormity of an Olympic Games will hit home tomorrow when Copeland arrives at the athlete’s village for a first tour around the the place she will call home for the next three weeks.

Between trips to Eton Dorney for the heats next Monday and hopefully the final of the lightweight double sculls on Friday, August 3, Copeland will sample the extra special feeling of being an Olympian.

“It’s really exciting,” she says. “I try not to think about it too much because it detracts from the task at hand.

“We’ll be given a tour around the athletes village on Tuesday and I really can’t wait for that.

“I’ve been reading the tweets and seeing the pictures of the Team GB athletes who are already in there.”