“Her incredible list of rowing accomplishments is unrivalled, and having someone like that to turn to for advice is priceless.
“The way in which she has never given up is a true inspiration to everyone, and she has shown a nation how hard work, belief and drive can pay off” – Jess Eddie, GB Rowing Team
The rowing family has reacted with pride to the announcement that Katherine Grainger – a member of the GB Rowing Team since 1997 – has been short-listed for this year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.
Her team-mates in the women’s squad immediately voiced their collective delight in this joint reaction:
“Having someone like Katherine Grainger on the same team as you is priceless. To have won medals on a world or Olympic stage across every open-weight boat class is something very hard for people to grasp, it's almost like Jess Ennis winning all of her separate events!
“She has been performing at the highest level for 16 years in what is an extremely difficult and demanding sport. The competition within the team is ruthless, and more often than not she comes out on top.
“She's the kind of athlete who is there, day in and day out, setting a benchmark for the team and training alongside such an outstanding individual has without a doubt raised the standard of the GB Women's squad to what it is today.
“We're very proud that Katherine has made the short list, representing not only the rowing team but women in sport.
“She's given so much to this team and her country and it's brilliant that she is being recognised in this way.
Grainger, Olympic Champion and three-times previous silver medallist, made her senior international debut in 1997 in the women’s eight, having won World U23 gold that same year.
David Tanner, GB Rowing Team Performance Director said: "Katherine has been an exemplary and inspiring member of the GB Rowing Team for the past 16 years. She is determined, focussed and competitive in everything she does, coupling that with a great sense of humour and humility. She is a remarkable medal winner who knows how to connect with people, young and old, and inspire them to achieve their own goals. Needless to say, we are very proud of her".
Grainger was in the quad that won GB’s first Olympic medal for women – a silver – in Sydney in 2000. Post-Sydney she teamed up with Cath Bishop in the women’s pair and they were crowned World Champions in 2003, and followed this by taking Olympic silver in Athens in 2004.
Paul Thompson, GB Rowing Team’s Chief Coach for Women and Lightweights said:
“I have had the privilege to coach Katherine Grainger for the last 12 years covering her six world championship victories as well as three of her four Olympic games. It is fitting that Katherine is short listed for sports personality of the year. As well as her athletic prowess she displays abundant amounts of perseverance, dedication and determination. She has an extremely strong sense of teamship and fair play. Katherine also has an insatiable desire for excellence and to compete and win. I have been fortunate to witness Katherine working on a day-to-day basis with the ups and downs that elite sport brings and have seen the grace and focus with which she has overcome these challenges to succeed at the highest level. If the viewers of Sports Personality saw even a quarter of Katherine's qualities, training and racing they would be picking up the phone and voting for her now!”
For the 2008 Olympiad Grainger, again coached by Thompson, was in the GB quad which took three consecutive World golds but which was pipped to Olympic gold in Beijing by the host nation
After a year in the single - a boat in which she won a truly remarkable World silver – Grainger was teamed up with Anna Watkins – a superb rower in her own right who had been margins of a second off gold in Beijing in the double scull with Elise Laverick.
The combination proved dynamite. They took the World Championships crown in 2010 in an unbeaten season as a duo – a feat they were to repeat in 2011 before winning the ultimate prize of Olympic gold in 2012 on home waters at Eton-Dorney.
Di Ellis, Chairman of British Rowing since 1989 said: “Having followed Katherine's rowing career since the inception of the Lottery Sports Fund for athletes in 1996 I am delighted that she has been short listed for this prestigious award. British Rowing is extremely proud of her achievements and in particular her well deserved Olympic gold medal this year.'
“British Rowing is delighted that Katherine Grainger has been shortlisted for Sports Personality of the Year. She has always been an exemplary ambassador for the sport of rowing and her gold medal performance with Anna Watkin at Eton Dorney at London 2012 was one of the iconic moments of The Games. She is a true sporting legend”, added Kate Burt, Chief Executive of British Rowing.
For the past eight years, Jessica Eddie has been part of the women’s squad and is the women’s athlete rep. She said: “Katherine is one of the world’s most outstanding athletes. To have her as a British athlete is something we should all be grateful for, I wouldn't like to be lining up against her.
“I have trained alongside her for eight years, and turning up for a session when she is around is inspiring. Which isn't something I say lightly, considering the calibre of our athletes.
“Away from her rowing anyone who has ever met Katherine knows how much time she has for each and every person who stops to talk to her. She can hold a room of adults in thrall and also talk to children as though she's never answered a question like theirs before.
Her humility, perseverance and doggedness are a lesson to us all. She is quite simply one of our country’s heroes”.
Born: 12 November 1975, Glasgow; Living: Maidenhead; Club: St Andrew Boat Club; Olympic Champion: Women’s double scull (with Anna Watkins) 2012.
Six times World Champion, three times Olympic silver medallist
For full results and medals go to: http://www.britishrowing.org/gb-rowing-team/biographies/katherine-grainger
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 was winner of "Olympian of the Year" at the Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year Awards. This was just days after she and Anna Watkins were named as 2012 World Rowing Female Crew of the Year by FISA.
Olympic silver medallist in 2000, 2004 and 2008 and six times a World Champion, Katherine is GB's most successful Olympic female rower and was awarded an MBE in 2006 for services to rowing.
She was named the "Olympic Athlete of the Year" for 2010 for the sport of rowing, receiving the British Olympic Association's trophy at the GB Rowing Team Dinner.
During the 2012 World Cup season Katherine raced in the women's double scull with Anna Watkins winning gold at all 3 World Cups.
At the 2012 GB Rowing Team Senior Trials held on 10/11 March at Eton/Dorney, Katherine reclaimed her title as winner of the women's single scull.
At the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Katherine and crewmate 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 injured Anna Watkins won gold in the women's double, with clear water between them and the boats of USA and Belarus 1 in silver and bronze positions respectively. In Lucerne, Katherine was reunited with Anna Watkins to win gold again and to win the overall World Rowing Cup Series in the double.
At the 2011 GB Rowing Team Senior Trials held on 16-17 April at Eton/Dorney, Katherine was beaten into 2nd place in the women's single scull by her crewmate in the double, Anna Watkins, thereby breaking her 7-year unbeaten record.
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" at the World Championships in New Zealand last November.
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. A superb effort.
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.
She won the women's singles title at the 2010 GB Rowing Team Senior Trials in Hazewinkel, taking her career Trials tally to nine.
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.
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.
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.
The victory was a great breakthrough for British rowing and hopes were high that they 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Born in Glasgow, Katherine now lives in Maidenhead although she travels home to Scotland whenever possible. In 2009 she was named Scottish Sportsperson of the Year. With a degree and Masters in Law already under her belt, she is now studying homicide for a PhD.
Katherine is Lottery Funded through UK Sport.
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