Anna Watkins MBE

Rower // Women's Squad
Date of Birth: 13th Feb 1983 (32 years old)
Club: Leander Club
Height: 183.00
Hometown: Leek

Anna Watkins profile image

Anna Watkins has her sights set on competing at a third Olympic Games after coming out of retirement in 2015.

She won medals on her previous two Team GB appearances, both in the women’s double scull – bronze with Elise Laverick at Beijing 2008 and an unforgettable gold with Katherine Grainger at London 2012.

The GB Rowing Team Start graduate hung up her blades after that to start a family but, after having two children, is now back in training at Caversham as she seeks selection for Rio 2016.

Should Anna earn selection in 2016, she will become the first mother to represent Britain in rowing.

Gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games is one of six major medals won by Anna in the women’s double scull

On The Water

Rio 2016 Olympiad: 2013 - 2016

Anna confirmed in August 2015 – just six months after giving birth to her second child, Richard – that she was returning to rowing and seeking to rejoin the GB Rowing Team squad.

“I think I’d ruled it out for so long because I was enjoying being at home with the children and it seemed impossible,” said Anna, whose first son, William, was born in September 2013.

“To be honest it was the switch between it being ridiculous and impossible to it being still ridiculous but maybe there was a chance.”

London 2012 Olympiad: 2009 - 2012

Gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games is one of six major medals won by Anna in the women’s double scull during her career, which began on the GB Rowing Team Start Programme in Cambridge.

After winning bronze with Elise Laverick at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, Anna continued her progression during 2009 as, in tandem with Annie Vernon, she won a silver medal at the World Championships in Poznan.

Her first World Championships gold arrived during an outstanding 2010 season, which saw Anna and new partner Katherine Grainger win all of their double scull races.  They also doubled up in the women’s quad on the World Cup circuit, winning two golds and a silver.

Anna and Katherine – coached by Paul Thompson – were named as World Rowing Female Crew of the Year and continued their dominant form in 2011, leading from the front to retain their World title and go into Olympic year with confidence high.

After winning gold at all three World Cup regattas, Anna and Katherine were crowned as Olympic champions on an emotionally-charged afternoon at Eton Dorney as they finished two seconds clear of Australia.  They were again named as World Rowing Female Crew of the Year and Anna was awarded the MBE in the 2013 New Year Honours list.

GB Competitive Record

Olympic Games
London 2012 W2x
Beijing 2008 W2x
Olympic Games:
London 2012
Olympic Games:
Beijing 2008

World Rowing Championships
2011 W2x
2010 W2x
2009 W2x
2007 W2x
2006 4th W2x
2005 5th W8+
World Rowing Championships:
World Rowing Championships:
World Rowing Championships:
World Rowing Championships:
World Rowing Championships:
World Rowing Championships:

World Rowing U23 Championships
2005 W2-
2004 W4-
World Rowing U23 Championships:
World Rowing U23 Championships:

GB Rowing Team Senior Trials
2012 2nd W1x
2011 1st W1x
GB Rowing Team Senior Trials:
GB Rowing Team Senior Trials:

More info...

Anna started her career as a sweep rower having taken up the sport recreationally in 2001 while studying Natural Sciences at Newnham College, Cambridge.

Her coaches at the college, Tim Granger and Michael Gifford, encouraged Anna to fulfil her potential by trying out for the GB Rowing Team’s Start Programme in Cambridge. She was successful and joined the ground-breaking talent identification and development initiative, supported by National Lottery funding, in 2003.

Within 12 months, under the guidance of Adrian Cassidy, Anna won gold on her international debut with the women’s four at the 2004 World U23 Championships in Poznan.

She won bronze in the women’s pair in Amsterdam the following year and made her senior World Championships debut a few weeks later as part of the women’s eight that finished fifth in Japan.

Anna switched to sculling in 2006 and spent the next six years predominantly in the women’s double. Her first partner was fellow Start graduate Annie Vernon but, after winning gold and silver at World Cup regattas, they just missed out on a medal at the World Championships in Eton.

Partnered with Elise Laverick, Anna won her first World Championship medal in Munich in 2007 – a bronze – and repeated that achievement in a dramatic final at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing where just 0.23 secs separated the front three crews. That came at the end of a difficult season where Anna struggled to recover from glandular fever.

Club: Leander Club
Role: Rower
Coaches: Paul Thompson
Learnt to Row: Newham College, Cambridge
Original Club(s): Rob Roy Boat Club with GB Rowing's World Class Start Programme
Original Coach(es): Tim Granger, Michael Gifford, Adrian Cassidy, Miles Forbes-Thomas

Beyond the Boat

Anna Watkins, nee Bebington, was born and raised in Leek, Staffordshire where she attended Westwood College.  She is currently completing a PhD in Mathematics at the University of Reading.

In September 2009 she married Oliver Watkins, a Formula 1 engineer who worked as Simulation Development Team Leader with McLaren.

As an ambassador for BNY Mellon, she was integral in helping to secure the Women's Boat Race permanent move from Henley-on-Thames to the Tideway, ensuring that it now takes place on the same day as The Boat Race.

Anna is also a Director of the British Athletes Commission, the body that represents the interests of athletes in elite performance sports in Great Britain, and is Chair of the Athlete Advisory Group.

Personal information

Current Address Home Town Region
Wokingham Leek Staffordshire
Current Address:
Home Town:

Date of Birth Height
13th February 1983 183cm
Date of Birth:
13th February 1983

Westwood High School Leek, Cambridge University
Westwood High School Leek, Cambridge University