‘The Killing’ was Grainger’s Olympic secret weapon

Olympic gold medallist Katherine Grainger and Commonwealth gold medallist Robbie Renwick with young athletes. Picture: SNS
Olympic gold medallist Katherine Grainger and Commonwealth gold medallist Robbie Renwick with young athletes. Picture: SNS
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KATHERINE Grainger has revealed the unusual way in which she took her mind off rowing in the build-up to last year’s Olympic Games. The Scot and Anna Watkins, with whom she went on to win a gold medal at London 2012, watched Danish crime drama The Killing episode by episode – and set up an incident room where they tried to find out who the murderer was.

The duo were at a training camp in Germany along with some Great Britain team-mates and, once training was over for the day, they needed some light relief. For Grainger, who is on the verge of completing a PhD in criminology, the obvious thing was to turn to a box set of the TV drama, which has become a worldwide success.

“We watched The Killing obsessively,” she explained yesterday. “My Danish has never been so good.

“In training camp, especially in the lead-up to the Olympics, the downtime is almost as important as the training. Mentally, you need to be able to switch off and not let the moment that’s building get too much. You’re stuck in a hotel room, just the two of you, and you can’t let it be oppressive. Box-set DVDs are easy to flick through and we got into The Killing.

“It’s such an absorbing crime drama, so we created an incident room. It’s something everyone should try. We got a flip-chart for the wall, a list of suspects, a timeline, and with each episode you’d get a bit more information so we’d add that in. Between each training session we’d sit in a little bakery, where we trained in Germany, and genuinely take on the roles of the detectives and argue the case for different suspects.

“We’d poke holes in alibis. It was great. I’d like to say I got it right but, like all good dramas, you think someone different is to blame after each episode. One of the girls, from the second episode onwards, claims to have known, but we reckon that’s lies. We fell for all the red herrings.”

Grainger was speaking at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, where she and Commonwealth Games swimming gold medallist Robbie Renwick were launching this year’s Bank of Scotland Local Heroes programme. Local Heroes provides grants of £1,000 per year to every athlete who is accepted on to the scheme and, this year, 82 of the country’s most promising competitors have been included.

Besides the financial assistance, Local Heroes members will benefit from the advice of people such as Grainger when it comes to deciding how best to cope with the pressure in the countdown to major events.

“If you can switch off for small parts of the day, as an athlete, then it’s really valuable,” was the lesson she said was brought home to her in Germany. “We came back refreshed. Crime has helped me!”

While Grainger need not decide until the autumn whether she will resume competitive rowing, the deadline for her PhD is now only weeks away. “I’m going to submit the thesis by the end of this month and, hopefully, get examined next month,” she said.

“It doesn’t have a final title yet – that’s for the final day. It’s legal academic research. It’s about the law of homicide, the penalties of murder and all the interplay with philosophy, politics, media, law and prisons. So it takes in 
a lot.”

Rowing has not been in the Commonwealth Games for some time and will again be excluded next year in Glasgow. But swimming will, as ever, be one of the event’s main sports. Aberdonian Renwick has been based in the host city for some time, and is looking forward to the opening of the renovated Tollcross pool – the venue that will be used for the Games. He said: “I’ve been training and competing at the old Tollcross for five years – that’s originally why I moved here.

“For the last 18 months, it has been under development so I’m really looking forward to seeing what they have done.

“I’ve been training all over Glasgow, to be honest, and trying to get away as much as I can for long-course facilities. With this pool being open now, it is great that we can get in a year early and get used to the pool. It’s going to give us a great head start on all the other competitors leading into the games next year.

“Not only have they built another 50-metre pool, there’s a fantastic gym in there and really everything is in the one place. So I’ve gone from really fighting for pool time in the Gorbals or Springburn to having ample pool time at Tollcross. A ten-lane 50m pool side by side with an eight-lane one is going to be fantastic for Glasgow, and it’s great to have that legacy a year early as well.”

• As part of Bank of Scotland’s London 2012 legacy, Bank of Scotland Local Heroes, in partnership with SportsAid, will provide support and funding to 82 emerging Scottish athletes in 2013. Over 220 Local Heroes have benefited from the programme since 2008. Follow Scotland’s future stars at facebook.com/bankofscotlandlocalheroes.