Katherine Grainger CBE
Katherine is GB's most successful Olympic female rower. She became Olympic Champion in 2012 in the double scull adding gold to the three Olympic silver medals she won between 2000 and 2008. Katherine, already a recipient of the MBE, was made a CBE in the 2013 New Year Honours list. She won "Olympian of the Year" at the Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year Awards just days after she and Anna Watkins were named as 2012 World Rowing Female Crew of the Year by FISA.
Katherine then took a two-year break and explored avenues outside rowing before returning to training in September 2014.
Rio 2016 Olympiad: 2013 - 2016
At the 2015 GB Rowing Team Senior and U23 Trials, Katherine marked her return after two years away with a second-place finish in the women's single scull. Along with Victoria Thornley, she was selected to race in the women's double scull, and won bronze medals at the 2015 European Rowing Championships in Poznan, and second World Cup in Varese. The duo unfortunately missed out on a place in the A final at the third World Cup in Lucerne, but won the B final comfortably. After a good start in the final of the World Rowing Championships in Aiguebelette, Vicky and Katherine finished 6th, but earned a qualifying spot in the 2016 Olympic regatta.
London 2012 Olympiad: 2009 – 2012
At the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Katherine raced in the women's double scull with Anna Watkins. The duo won a fantastic gold medal, finishing over 2 seconds ahead of Australia. Katherine and Anna were unbeaten in the double scull throughout the 2012 World Cup season.
At the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Katherine and Anna Watkins maintained their title as World Champions by leading their race from the start. Australia took silver and New Zealand the bronze.
In Munich at the first World Cup of 2011 Katherine with Melanie Wilson substituting for the injured Anna Watkins won gold in the women's double scull. In Lucerne, Katherine was reunited with Anna to win gold again and to win the overall World Rowing Cup Series in the double.
Katherine and crewmate Anna Watkins in the women's double scull were named 2010 World Rowing Female Crew of the Year. The duo, coached by Paul Thompson, were described by the sport's world governing body as the "perfect combination" and were praised for winning their world title in "dominating style". The same year Katherine was named the "Olympic Athlete of the Year" for the sport of rowing, receiving the British Olympic Association's trophy at the GB Rowing Team Dinner.
Unbeaten all year in the women's double scull, at the 2010 World Championships on Lake Karapiro, Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins played their role as favourites to perfection, taking the lead from the start and winning gold over six seconds ahead of second placed Australia with Poland in the bronze position.
For the 2010 World Cup series Katherine raced in the women's double scull with Anna Watkins, and they then doubled up into the women's quad in tandem with Beth Rodford and Annabel Vernon for all three events. In Bled Katherine took gold in both races, in Munich she won gold in the double and silver in the quad and in Lucerne again won gold in both boats. This was an amazing achievement, bearing in mind that she had not much more than an hour to recover between races each time.
After winning the GB Rowing Team Senior Trials in April 2009, Katherine took up the challenge of racing the single for the 2009 season. She won at the first World Cup in Banyoles but found herself outside the medal zone at Munich and Lucerne. But at the World Rowing Championships in Poznan she had clearly moved on and everyone there will remember the dramatic moment in the final when she took the lead soon after half way, ahead of Zhang from China and Knapkova from the Czech Republic. Eventually Katherine had to settle for a silver medal, having been overtaken by the wily Karsten from Belarus who took the lead with a few hundred metres to go, with Knapkova in third. This was an excellent result for Katherine.
Beijing 2008 Olympiad: 2005 – 2008
At the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 the women's quad of Katherine, Annie Vernon, Debbie Flood and Frances Houghton, coached by Paul Thompson, came away with silver after an agonising final 200 metres where they were overhauled by China. Their disappointment was there for all to see after the finish and understandably so as defending World Champions. They led the final from the first stroke but had no answer to the Chinese charge at the end. It said much for the standard of GB Women's rowing that the quad and their many supporters were disappointed with the colour of their medal but it took nothing away from their outstanding record over the previous four years.
In 2007 she medalled at each of the World Cups and won the overall quad title for the series. The quad also won gold at the World Championships in Munich.
At the 2006 World Championships the women's quadruple scull fought an intense battle with Russia and were just beaten to the line in the dying metres of the race to take silver. In a strange twist of fate, their Russian conquerors later fell foul of a drugs test and the British women's quartet were restored, in early 2007, as rightful World Champions once more.
Katherine's versatility has contributed to her success, confidently moving from a sculling silver in Sydney to a sweep silver in Athens and following the retirement of Cath Bishop she moved back to the quadruple scull in 2005 after winning the singles title at the 2005 GB Rowing Senior Trials. The quad enjoyed a successful season, winning gold in the World Cups at Eton and Munich and culminating in a hard fought victory at the World Championships in Japan in September.
Athens 2004 Olympiad: 2001 – 2004
The victory in 2003 was a great breakthrough for British rowing and hopes were high that Katherine and Cath could add Olympic gold in Athens. However, throughout the 2004 season they could not defeat the experienced Romanians. Despite an unimpressive performance in the heats, the British pair made the Olympic final and although they could not catch the Romanians their traditional mid–course surge took them from 4th to 2nd place and a superb silver medal.
In 2003 Katherine's partnership with Cath Bishop in the pair resulted in her first World title when they won gold at the World Championships in Milan in dramatic fashion, storming through the field from 4th to 1st in the last 600 metres and toppling the reigning World and Olympic champions from Romania.
Sydney 2000 Olympiad: 1997– 2000
In 1999 Katherine raced in the quad, finishing 7th at the World Championships and the following year won silver with the quad at her first Olympic Games in Sydney.
Katherine took up rowing at Edinburgh University in 1993 and made such good progress she was awarded the Eva Bailey Trophy as their most outstanding female athlete in 1996 and again in 1997. Her international rowing career took off in 1997 when she paired with Francesca Zino from Cambridge University and won the gold medal at the World U23 Championships, setting a new record for the event. On their return home, they raced for seats in the senior eight and went on to compete in the World Championships where they won bronze and became the first women's eight ever to win a World Championship medal.
Beyond the Boat
Katherine has a degree in Law from Edinburgh University, a MPhil in Medical Law and Medical Ethics from Glasgow University and, in May 2013, completed a PhD in the sentencing of homicide at King’s College, University of London. “I wanted to be a lawyer – one of those idealistic ones who stands up in court and makes great speeches about truth, justice and equality. Otherwise maybe just an astronaut.”
As well as completing her PhD during a two-year break from rowing after London 2012, Katherine released her autobiography ‘Dreams Do Come True’ and worked for the BBC as a co-presenter and pundit. She was inaugurated as Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University in March 2015, a role she will hold for a seven-year tenure.
Katherine finds it “very easy” to relax away from rowing, with television and film her big love. “During 2012 I couldn’t get enough of The Killing (the Danish original) and we also did the entire West Wing. Recently I’ve caught up all over again with Breaking Bad and The Sopranos. Currently on my waiting list is The Good Wife, House of Cards latest season and more Game of Thrones. For fun I loved the BBC comedy Twenty Twelve and the sequel W1A, I laugh out loud at those. And I love The Thick of It and Veep – political comedy of the highest order. I could go on... obviously!”
She also has a “massively varied” taste in music and particularly likes things she can sing along to, “even though I can't actually sing”. Her guitar is one of three items she would take to a desert island, “so I can finally learn to play it properly”, along with a digital radio plus pen and paper.
Katherine’s ideal dinner party guests would be Eddie Izzard “for laughter”, Elvis Presley “for the music” and Judi Dench “for the drama”.
She is also a good juggler. “I haven't quite made it to the flaming batons... yet.”
Katherine is Lottery funded through UK Sport.