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The GB Rowing Team is the high performance arm of British Rowing. Rowing is the nation’s most continuously successful Olympic sport, having won a gold medal in every Olympic Games since 1984, and has won six Paralympic golds since the sport was introduced to the Paralympic Games programme in 2008.
GB Rowing Team
Rower // Women's Squad Date of Birth: 13th Feb 1983 (38 years old)
Club: Leander Club Height: 183.00 Hometown: Leek
Anna Watkins is a double Olympic medallist and two-times World Champion in the women’s double scull.
After winning bronze with Elise Laverick at Beijing 2008, Anna forged an outstanding partnership with Katherine Grainger that culminated in an unforgettable gold-medal triumph at the London 2012 Games.
The GB Rowing Team Start graduate then took time out from the sport to start a family. She returned to rowing in August 2015 in an attempt to qualify for a third Olympic Games but has now withdrawn from the programme.
Gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games is one of six major medals won by Anna in the women’s double scull
©Peter Spurrier/Intersport Images
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.
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
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
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.
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