Talented teen claims Regatta win
The Woolton Hill girl only took up rowing at the end of last year after quitting cycling at the beginning of 2012. The seven-time National Schools Cycling champion walked away from the sport after eight years of intensive competition became too much for her.
Katie said; “Last year my performances had dropped off substantially. I was feeling a lot of pressure from both inside and outside cycling as it was GCSE year for me as well, so I decided to concentrate on time-trialling but then, in my next event, I was forced off the road by a van and I just lost it.”
“I dreaded the thought of getting back on a bike, and so decided to call it a day completely. It was only when I stopped, that I realised exactly how much pressure I had been under for around 18 months.”
The teenager did no sport at all for most of last year, but decided to try out at Wallingford Rowing Club at the end of the year.
She said: “I was very unfit, and it was extremely hard at first, but the moment I stepped into a boat, I fell in love with sport again.”
Five years ago, she smashed the world record for the indoor rowing half-marathon, as well as the 10k, and the long-term plan was always to give rowing a try, but former GB Olympic medallist Douglas Carpenter at her cycling club in Hillingdon advised her not too start too young on the water.
“Douglas was the dad of one of my team-mates and after I broke the records, he was very concerned about me starting too soon. I took his advice to heart.”
Sadly, Carpenter died in 2011, but Katie remembered his words of advice and always vowed that her first race win would be dedicated to him.
Metalli won the Thames Valley WJ18 single sculls by five lengths, which was even more remarkable as the race was only held over 500 metres rather than the standard 2k distance.
Afterwards, she was quick to remember Carpenter. “I could not have won today without my coach Emily’s hard work, but I really want to dedicate this one to Douglas. I always remember his advice, although it has been very hard work over the last few months and I had thought that at 16, maybe I had left it a little too late.”
Metalli's coach, Emily Booker, added: “This season was supposed to be all about gaining experience for Katie and I certainly did not expect her to win anything this year.
“She only stepped into a sculling boat four months ago, and a single scull just eight weeks ago, and while she is clearly very strong, technically there is still a lot of work to do; after years of cycling, her back is completely in the wrong position. So to win – and by such a margin – is very promising”
Metalli was the only one of the 17-strong Wallingford team to claim a win at the regatta but has already raced her last single for the season. She is now teaming up with Maddie Newman in the double sculls to prepare for her first National Championships later this month and although this is again just to gain experience, who knows what the Newbury girl may do?