NINE days ago, Kat Copeland produced one of the most memorable moments of the Olympic Games when she teamed up with Sophie Hosking to claim lightweight double sculls gold. In an exclusive interview with the Teessider, Chief Sport Writer Scott Wilson caught up with the North-East's first female gold medallist one week on

KAT Copeland can remember the point at which she realised her life had changed.

“There's a place in Stratford called Team GB House, and it's where a lot of the television and radio interviews take place,” said Copeland, whose success in the lightweight double sculls made her the North-East's only Olympic gold medallist at London 2012. “I was in there with Sophie (Hosking, her fellow gold medallist) earlier in the week.

“We'd done all our interviews and were just about to leave when a girl came in and said, 'We're just about to have a couple of visitors and they've asked to see you so you might want to hang around'.

“About two minutes later, the door swung open and in walked Prince Harry and Kate Middleton. I couldn't believe that they knew who we were. I guess none of that would have been happening if I hadn't won gold.”

One week on from her unforgettable success at Eton Dorney, and it is fair to say that Copeland is still getting her head around the concept of being an Olympic gold medallist.

We chatted ahead of last night's closing ceremony, where the Teessider was due to join the rest of Britain's medallists at a celebratory reception, and while some of the wide-eyed disbelief that so endeared her to the nation in the wake of last Saturday's victory had disappeared, the endearing self-deprecation remained.

“Do you know what the strangest thing of the last week has been,” she said. “People see me with my gold medal and think I'm Laura Trott (the double gold-medal winning cyclist).

“A couple of times, I've been asked for an autograph, and after I've signed it, the person has said, 'Oh, so you're not Laura Trott? Who are you then?” I try to explain, but I think they're still a bit disappointed.”

Amid the whirlwind of media and corporate appearances and an odd night out with her friends, she hasn't had time to watch her gold-medal winning race, and doesn't really know if she wants to in the future.

There is a huge amount of pride in what she has achieved, and a contentment at having contributed to a remarkably successful Olympics for both the rowing team and the rest of Team GB.

But in terms of regarding herself as an Olympic champion, the pinnacle of sporting achievement, you suspect there is still some way to go before the enormity of the achievement sinks in.

“It's starting to feel a little bit more real, but it probably only comes in flashes,” said Copeland. “Little things happen every now and then and you think, 'Oh yeah, that's right, I did that'.

“The best part has been how excited everyone else is for you, but to be honest, I haven't thought about being an Olympic gold medallist very much.

“I don't know how to explain it very well. I know we won, but I still don't see myself at anything like the same level as someone like Katherine (Grainger) or Anna (Watkins), who are in the same block in the village as me and Sophie.

“When I've seen other people winning Olympic medals in the past, it's seemed like such a massive thing. I can remember the first time I went down to Caversham (British Rowing's high-performance centre) and there were all these Olympic champions wandering around, and you were in awe of what they had achieved.

“I don't regard myself like that, and I don't think I ever will. People have told me, 'Well you're a gold medallist now too', but to me, it still seems like they're way up there and I'm still way down below them.”

That is not to say, though, that being an Olympic champion has not had its perks. The London Evening Standard's society pages have been full of Olympians, many of them rowers, attending some of the hottest parties in town.

Copeland hasn't had the full-on paparazzi treatment yet - “they'd only caption the picture Laura Trott anyway!” - but she has experienced some things she never thought possible.

“I got asked to go on the breakfast show on Capital FM with Lisa Snowdon, and I got to meet Danny from The Script,” she said. “All my friends were so jealous when I told them that.

“I got to go to this party on a veranda in the Olympic Village and Mark Ronson was there, so that was pretty cool, and we got to go to a party at one of the houses in Made In Chelsea. I don't watch the show that much, but it was a pretty cool house.”

She returns to the North-East today, and cannot wait to meet some of her friends and Tees Rowing Club colleagues who were unable to travel to London for the Games.

“I've done some amazing things down here, but all my mates had a night out in the Empire (in Middlesbrough) at the weekend and that made me a little bit jealous,” she said. “It's been a fantastic week, but I can't wait to get home.

“I've only been on the senior squad for about a year, so most of my best friends are still up at home and I can't wait to see them.

“I'm going to have a couple of weeks of catching up, and then I'll start to think about the future. I honestly haven't thought about it yet. It's a big commitment to carry on rowing at the same level, because you're basically committing yourself for at least the next four years.

“There are other things I'd like to do as well – I still haven't got my degree yet – so it's going to be a case of seeing if I want to carry on rowing, and if I do, working out how I'm going to be able to juggle everything around.”

For now, that decision can wait. One more task, though, is rather more pressing.

“I travel up on Monday, but then on Tuesday, I have to be on a five-hour speed awareness course at nine o'clock,” she said. “That'll certainly get me back into the real world pretty quickly. With everything that's happened, I just hope I'm not totally exhausted and fall asleep. That wouldn't be very good would it?”