Katarina confirmed herself to be a star of the future at the London Olympics, catapulting her achievements way beyond Jessica’s at the same age. She is now the British number 2 and has got her sights firmly set on Olympic gold in Rio 2016.
Barrie’s support has been invaluable to Kat’s development, particularly in terms of making it easier for her travel to and from training. Having initially provided funding for taxi journeys to and from training, once Kat turned 17, Barrie helped Kat with the costs of passing her driving test, purchasing a car and ongoing transportation costs.
Barrie has supported Kat in many other ways too, including paying for her and her coach, Mike Holmes, to join a weight training club and making a bet with Kat to win gold at the World Youth Championships in return for the chance to meet her football hero, Steven Gerrard… it took a while but Barrie eventually pulled it off. He also took her along to the 2010 European Championships to watch Jessica in order to keep her morale high during a bad spell of injury.
Katarina describes herself as competitive, impulsive and indecisive, which might explain her decision to do 7 events.
Her mother desperately wanted her to follow in her footsteps by becoming a ballet dancer but tom boyish, Kat, who growing up was never seen out of her Liverpool FC number 9 Heskey shirt, had other ideas. She combines her sporty nature with a love of fashion and loves music, she once flew all the way to Norway to see Kanye West and regularly creates her own warm up playlists.
She has a witty 'scouse' sense of humour, can't live without coffee and her and Barrie have a mutual love of Liverpool FC and Thai jungle curry.
Kat discovered her talent by chance in primary school, breaking a 29 year record in the high jump with no training. She persuaded her mum to take her to the local athletics club and ended up doing the heptathlon through her eagerness to keep trying out new activities. She has juggled her commitment to education and sport, also making time for her social life, demonstrating that achieving goals is all about motivation and balance.
Her activity session gives young people a taster of some of the 7 events of the heptathlon and she demonstrates aspects of her training in a fun and engaging way. She loves to bring out healthy competitiveness and showing all abilities that a mixture of sport can be really rewarding, no matter how good you are.
How do you prepare for a competition?
For competitions, I sort of just zone out and relax at home. I have lots of ‘Kat-naps' so I feel fully rested and refreshed.
I always listen to songs that mean something to me. I tend to get my warm up playlist ready and also go through the events and what I need to work on. I call this my mental rehearsal.
What sort of sacrifices do you have to make to be an athlete?
The social side of being a teenager and not eating whatever you want (at times). The rewards definitely outweigh these though.
What is your relationship with Barrie like?
My relationship with Barrie
is a very close one. We’ve bonded over so many things other than just athletics. We are both huge Liverpool supporters, he has got a really good sense of humour, we always have a proper laugh and we share a big love of food. When I first met him I was 16 and had to rely on the bus to get to school then straight to the track in the afternoon and because I’m a heptathlete I’ve got so much kit and equipment so Barrie
said forget all that, I’m paying for a taxi and it snowballed from there. Then when I turned 17 he got me driving lessons and a car. It’s a lot less stress on my life and makes it easier on my training. I think it’s an amazing thing what he’s doing, he’s helping a lot of people in sport to achieve their hopes and aspirations.
What career would you be doing if you weren't an athlete?
I would love to get into interior design. I love programmes like 60 Minute Makeover and would love to find an old broken down house and change it into something brilliant.
What makes you laugh?
Jim Carey and Will Ferrell and anyone else who can stretch their face muscles or do funny accents. Also the film ‘Step Brothers'.
What sort of things keep you motivated?
My competitors! I regularly have that quote in my mind, "someone, somewhere in the world is working harder than you”.