Lake District rower defends world championship title without leaving her home

Katie Templeton-Knight went to visit the world champion's home, where she won her gold medal.

A retired PE teacher from the Lake District has defended her indoor rowing world championship title without leaving her home.

Celia Whittam, 66, from Troutbeck, near Penrith, started rowing less than a decade ago.

In the time since she has competed in the world championships four times and beaten a former Olympian.

This year's event was held in Prague, but Ms Whittam chose to compete hybridly from her Troutbeck home due to costs.

Celia Whittam's medal.

Talking to ITV Border, Celia Whittam said: "Well, it does sound a bit odd when you've won and there's no cheering and such, but I did get a nice hug from my son who was really chuffed because he believed right from the start that I would be able to do it."

In the competition she rowed 500m in just under one minute 50 seconds, beating Penelope Vincent-Sweet of France, a former Olympian, by 3.4 seconds.

She continued: "I was ahead at about 200 metres, and I was tired. And this is where it really starts to hurt. And I'm trying to think of just keeping going.

"Keeping ahead of Penelope. And I just put everything I had. And I was absolutely shattered at the end.

"I have never raced so hard at the end. It's hard to celebrate immediately afterwards."

Celia Whittam in action.

With no crowds or cheering, winning gold virtually from the comforts of her Lake District kitchen, Ms Whittam's finish-line celebrations looked drastically different to other athlete's.

"I was absolutely thirsty and just needed to surprise and have a sit-down. But I had previously bought myself a Kit-Kat, one of the large ones with four bars.

"And eventually after maybe an hour or two, I decided that I would have that as my treat along with a cider."

The 500m Open Weight World Championship titleholder (65-69 age group) is looking forward to rowing outdoors this summer and is hopeful she'll compete in her fifth world championship next year.

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