Grainger hails female rowers who ‘stepped up’
Olympic gold medallist Katherine Grainger believes the performance of Great Britain’s female rowers at the London Olympics has finally taken them out of the shadow of their male counterparts.
Grainger, 36, had collected silver medals at the previous three Games but finally reached the top step of the podium alongside Anna Watkins as the two claimed gold in the women’s double sculls. Before the London Games there had been no rowing gold in the Olympics for British women, whereas the men’s team was consistently medalling. But following Grainger and Watkins’ success, as well as golds for Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hoskins in the lightweight double sculls and the coxless pair of Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, the six-time world champion reckons the women have started to make their mark on the sport.
She said: “When I arrived in the team a few years ago, it was the men who were performing. Steve Redgrave was still around and [so was] Matthew Pinsent. They got far more attention and rightly so.
“We had never had a women’s Olympic gold medal in rowing until 2012 and then we got three, so it really was time for the women to step up and claim their right as at least equal with the men. It was great to see that happen across the squad. We knew through training camps and day-in day-out training together that the women had a great chance at these Games, and people just stepped up to the plate when they were asked.”
Grainger revealed it was joy, and not relief, that sparked her celebrations upon finally winning the top prize, even if it was yet to completely sink in.
“To some extent I felt a little bit of relief, but I thought there would be more,” she said. “To me it was overwhelming joy and happiness. It was such a special achievement. Olympic gold is massive anytime, but in front of a home crowd and with the home nation behind you it was always going to be the most incredible moment for any athlete.
“It has honestly not sunk in yet. I think we thought after the race it would begin to become normal and get real, but we have just had this incredibly wonderful life ever since that it has just become more and more unreal.”
Grainger’s silver medals had come in the quadruple sculls in Sydney and Beijing and the coxless pair in Athens, but her partnership with Watkins, which led to an incredible unbeaten run, was the secret behind her latest success. She said: “We have been together three years and for the first year everything just went right, every race was brilliant, we had no setbacks, no injuries, no illness and we had nothing between us. We kept saying we were going to have challenges and we were going to fight, and we were spending so much time together under intense pressure that we were going to crack at some point and we need to be okay with that.
“But three years on it hasn’t happened yet and there is no way we could have got that result without the chemistry and trust and the relationship we have. It was an incredible goal for both of us and an achievement for both of us. We wanted to do it for each other as well as for ourselves and it was so special to enjoy that moment with someone else.”
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Monday 20 May 2013
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