Scotswoman seeks to step up from silver

Multiple gold medal-winning oarswoman Kathering Grainger won the UK Sport Award at the SJA’s 2007 Sports Awards in recognition of her career achievements. Here, LIZ WRAY profiles the Scot

Katherine Grainger’s first experience of rowing came when Gordon Simpson, her family’s next door neighbour in Glasgow, mentioned that he was a member of Clydesdale Amateur Rowing Club and offered to take Katherine and her sister Sarah rowing one day.

Gordon enthusiastically reported back after this first outing that Mrs Grainger’s daughter had a real aptitude for rowing – in fact he wouldn’t be surprised if Sarah went on to be a Scottish champion one day. Of Katherine, he said nothing at all.

Grainge (pictured receiving her UK Sport Award from Tim Hollingsworth, of UKS, at the 2007 SJA Sports Awards) eventually took up rowing while at University in 1993, after being button-holed at the freshers’ fair by a zealot from Edinburgh University Boat Club, where she soon excelled.

Her international rowing career started in 1997 when, paired with Francesca Zino, she won gold at the World U23 Championships. Later that same year she went on to compete at the senior World Championships, winning bronze as part of the first British women’s eight ever to win a World Championship medal.

In 2003, Katherine’s partnership with Cath Bishop resulted in her first World title when they won gold in the pair at the World Championships in Milan, beating the reigning World and Olympic champions from Romania.

Cath Bishop retired from international rowing after the Athens Olympics (where they had won silver), and Katherine moved back into the quadruple scull in 2005.

A string of gold medals at World Cups and World Championships followed. At the 2006 World Championships the women’s quadruple scull fought an intense battle with Russia and were just beaten into second place the final metres of the final.

But the Russians were later disqualified because of a failed drugs test and the British women were restored as rightful world champions in January 2007. During 2007, Grainger has won gold in the quad at all three World Cup regattas as well as the World Championships.

Now, as an Olympic silver medalist in 2000 and 2004 and a four times World Champion, Grainger is Britain’s most successful Olympic female rower.

As the GB women’s quadruple scull look to Beijing and the tangible dream of becoming the first ever GB women’s crew to win Olympic gold, it’s worth noting that Grainger’s first ever sculling race was on the River Dee in Aberdeen. Head of the River, middle of winter, bloody cold and, to this day, the only time she has ever fallen out of a sculling boat.

To read the official press release on the SJA Sports Awards event and all award-winners, click here

ENTRIES OPEN NOW FOR BRITISH SPORTS JOURNALISM AWARDS – click here for details and entry forms