Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 16.13.48Olympic gold medallist Kat Copeland returned to Yarm School to open its new boathouse and floodlit astroturf pitch.

Kat started her rowing career at Yarm School before taking gold in the lightweight women’s double sculls final at the London 2012 Olympics.

Now on course to be part of the team at Rio in 2016, Kat took time out of her busy training schedule to open the futuristic boathouse, which sits on stilts on the bank of the River Tees.

Yarm School headmaster David Dunn said: “We’re absolutely thrilled Kat was able to open our new boathouse and astroturf. We are so proud of all she has achieved.

“Our rowing coaches predicted Kat was destined for big things as soon as she took to the water here at Yarm School. So, it’s only fitting that she should have been the one to launch the start of a new chapter of sport at Yarm, with new facilities we hope will help the Kat Copelands of the future to begin their own love affair with the sport.”

Opening the new boathouse, Kat said: “I hope it inspires the students as it does me. It makes me want to go and row right now. This is a great opportunity for people. It is now just to them to use it and make the most of it.”

Plans for the boathouse and pitch were drawn up by Associated Architects, who also designed the school Yarm’s award-winning Princess Alexandra Auditorium. The stunning new, ultra-modern boathouse will be a training base for rowers, with changing rooms, an office and a viewing gallery for events on the river and astroturf. It will house training equipment as well as the school’s growing number of boats, including single sculls, fours and eights.

Adjacent to the boathouse is a new, floodlit, full-sized artificial hockey pitch with the facility to accommodate 12 tennis courts in the summer months. It was laid by Cleveland Land Services.

Both facilities are expected to help cement Yarm School’s already impressive reputation in the world of sport. Young sportsmen and women from Yarm School regularly compete at the highest levels regionally, nationally and internationally.

Director of Sport, Mr Andy Guest said: “We’re so proud of Kat and it was fantastic to show her the new facilities here at Yarm. Without doubt her success inspired more of our students to take up the sport and we’re sure the new boathouse will focus even more attention on rowing here at Yarm School.”