Katherine Grainger’s hopes of fifth Olympics hang by thread

Katherine Grainger, left, and Vicky Thornley will discover their Olympic fate today. Picture: Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images
Katherine Grainger, left, and Vicky Thornley will discover their Olympic fate today. Picture: Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images
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London 2012 was not short of feelgood stories for Team GB but few were as heartwarming as Katherine Grainger finally winning gold after silver at her three previous Olympics.

However, the Scottish rower’s hopes of making a historic fifth straight Games in Rio are in serious doubt after she failed to qualify for the women’s eight in a Team GB race off. Grainger, who won double sculls gold with Anna Watkins in London, had initially been aiming for a crack at the same event with new partner Vicky Thornley but that was abandoned after they failed to make the podium at the European championships and the pair instead tried to get into the eight – both narrowly missing out.

Now the duo and British rowing management must decide if they resurrect their double sculls bid.

The failure to make the eight is a blow to 40-year-old Grainger, who along with swimmer Rebecca Adlington, is Britain’s joint most decorated female Olympian. It also a blow to Thornley, 28, who was in the women’s eight in 2012 and is considered one of the country’s most gifted rowers.

The 6ft 4in former model first teamed up with Grainger when Watkins took time off to have a baby.

The new mother returned after three years in a bid to reignite the golden London partnership for Rio but soon concedeed she was unable to reach the required level, leading to a reboot of the Grainger-Thornely pairing.

The GB squad will be announced today and a British Rowing statement said: “Whilst we had not lost confidence in Vicky Thornley and Katherine Grainger and felt they were still a potential medal boat, they asked to be considered instead for
 selection to the women’s eight, which is already a proven medal winning combination.

“We opened up a process and gave them the opportunity. They have not been successful and we are now looking at next steps in a selection process which is on-going.”