The stars aligned for former Edinburgh University star Grainger and double scull partner Anna Watkins, who were red-hot favourites for gold at Eton Dorney and they didn’t disappoint. Against the backdrop of Windsor Castle, the 36-year-old Scot is finally British rowing’s undisputed queen.
Unbeaten since teaming up together in 2010, Grainger and Watkins were always likely to be untouchable at these Games but 12 years of Olympic history can weight heavy. But, after three previous Olympic silver medals, Grainger was determined to command the race from the off and she and Watkins streaked clear of their Australian rivals in the second half of the contest to spark the loudest cheer of these Games so far.
“On the podium, we both knew how special it was and it was the fulfillment of a lot of hard work and effort and a lot of blood, sweat and tears,” said Grainger, who has won the last two world titles with Watkins.
“For any athlete who has been successful and has achieved, your standards constantly go up and to become Olympic champion is such a special and amazing accomplishment.
“Having had three silvers in the past and to not have the gold meant this did become the one I wanted to complete the collection and I am delighted I have finally done that.
“I have been lucky enough to medal at every Olympics I have been to but this was the one that I wanted and it became all about the gold for me.
“The Olympics is very special to me and it is a huge part of me and drives me on and the gold was proving elusive.
“We knew it would take something special to win it and we have been unbeaten since we started and you can’t ask for any more special than that.”
There will be few more deserving winners of a gold medal across these Games. Back at Sydney 2000, Grainger was a late call-up to the quad scull that collected an unexpected silver and Great Britain’s first-ever female Olympic rowing medal.
And four years later, while she and Cath Bishop were the reigning world champions in the pair, they were not the favourites for gold at Athens 2004 and, as Grainger has always said, her first two silvers were happy silvers.
But Beijing 2008 was supposed to be her time, only for a spectacular performance from the Chinese quad to deny her for a third time, prompting unforgettable scenes with Grainger fighting in vain against the tears as former British Olympic Association chairman Craig Reedie handed over the silver medal.
Fitting then that four years on it was again Reedie who had the far more envious task of hanging gold around Grainger’s neck and removing the 12-year-old albatross.
“I think it would have been an unfulfilled career had I not become Olympic champion. It would have always been the one that got away,” added Grainger.
“Anna and I always knew we could do it and if we hadn’t have achieved it together then we would have under-performed.
“I did seriously think about what I wanted to do after Beijing but I decided very quickly that I wanted to carry on.”
• Bank of Scotland, proud supporter of Team GB and proud partner of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Get closer to the Games at bankofscotland.co.uk/London2012