Golden girl Copeland preparing to take on the world

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Katherine Copeland has found adjusting to life as an Olympic champion to be both entertaining and a little overwhelming.

The 21-year-old Middlesbrough rower provided one of the more endearing images of London 2012 after she and Sophie Hosking claimed gold in the lightweight double sculls.

The enormity of the accomplishment took a moment to sink in for the slender Copeland, who could not quite comprehend the achievement.

As the reality dawned, her open-mouthed look of complete shock was one of the images of the Games.

Even now, three months on from that momentous accomplishment, the young woman from Tees Rowing Club is still coming to terms with her status as an Olympic champion.

“It’s a lot different talking about it than it is actually sitting down and thinking about it in your head,” she said. “Quite a few people have stopped me in the street and a lot of people have stopped me on the river since I’ve been back rowing.

“I’ve had people shouting at me from bridges and even fishermen from the banks – which is a bit weird at times.”

Copeland took it upon herself to return to training five weeks ago, mindful that the Olympic accolade will make herself and Hosking the pair to beat next year.

“I’ve been trying to put the gold out of my head when I get back to training,” said Copeland.

“I cannot be on the water thinking that I’m so good that I’m an Olympic champion and I don’t need to work hard.

“Sport moves on. I’ll look back on London when I’m finished.

“I know it is going to be a 
bit harder now after what happened. I would not exactly say I will have a target on my back, but I usually prefer going in under the radar.

“I went back into official training in late September, but I actually got on the water about three weeks before that.

“I just wanted to get out on my boat. It was quite nice going out for a paddle.”

Next year’s World Cup regattas take in a trip to Sydney and a return to Eton Dorney before the end-of-season world championships in South Korea.

The next Olympics in Rio would be the natural target for Copeland, but given all that she went through in the run-up to London she is conscious not to plan too far ahead.

Copeland nearly gave up the sport in 2009 when a move to London proved a step too far for the wide-eyed teenager.

Having returned to Tees Rowing Club, she only established her partnership with Hosking, 26, four months before the Games.

“I’m just going to see how it goes. I’m not wanting to rush into any decisions,” said Copeland.

“If I keep enjoying it I’ll carry on.”