Kat Copeland: Break helped fuel Rio 2016 Olympics ambitions

Olympic lightweight double sculls champion Kat Copeland has said a break from competition helped to keep her focused on the Rio Games in 2016.

Copeland, 23, took the sabbatical after winning gold at London 2012 with now retired team-mate Sophie Hosking.

She returned in April this year with Imogen Walsh, winning Europeans bronze and a second World Cup gold in June.

"Having a break has helped me to appreciate how lucky I am to row," Copeland told BBC Look North.

"I have room in the next couple of years to physiologically get stronger and fitter, but I am in the strongest mental place I could have been.

"I'm in a really good position going forward now.

I thought I would really like the attention but I didn't. I liked everyone's enthusiasm but I just like rowing

Kat Copeland

"It's a privilege, a really nice life and I love the sport and what I do. Realising that is a powerful thing if you love what you're doing."

Her success at Eton Dorney with Hosking made the Teessider a major star after the Olympics, with the award of an MBE in 2013.

It also brought her into the media focus - a completely new experience.

"I thought I would really like the attention but I didn't. I liked everyone's enthusiasm but I just like rowing," added Copeland.

"I found it very different to just being out on the river with my friends. I just like being at Tees and going out in my boat - there was a lot of stuff going on after the Olympics and I wanted to get back to my little bubble.

"However, a couple of months in I just realised I needed a bit of time to reflect on what happened, to think about the London success and be really pleased about it so that I could come back in with a fresh head and looking towards Rio.

"Everything will have moved on by 2016."