3 Aug 2012

Team GB’s women win another rowing gold

Rowers Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins finish in first place in the double sculls – winning gold for Team GB.

Rowers Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins finish in first place in the double sculls - winning gold for Team GB (Getty)

It is the second rowing gold for Britain’s women: Heather Stanning and Helen Glover won Team GB’s first gold medal in the pairs on Wednesday.

Katherine Grainger, Britain’s most successful Olympic female rower, was desperate for a gold, having come agonisingly close in the quadruple sculls in Beijing, where she had to settle for a silver.

They won their race with a time of six minutes, 55.82 seconds. Australia finished a close second (six minutes, 58.55 seconds) and Poland a distant third (seven minutes, 7.92 seconds).

Double bronze for GB men

Earlier, rowers George Nash and Will Satch won a bronze medal in the men’s pair, while Northern Ireland Alan Campbell also came third in the men’s single sculls.

Grainger and Anna Watkins are double world champions and are now unbeaten in 23 races since they were first paired together in 2010.

On Monday in the heats, they managed to smash the Olympic record in a time four seconds faster than the other winners Australia. Before the race, Grainger said: “This is the one we want more than anything. Of all my Olympic experiences before, this is the important one.”

Originally from Glasgow, Grainger studied at Edinburgh University, where she took up rowing in 1993. She won three consecutive Olympic silver medals, twice in the rowing quad and once in the coxless pairs in Sydney with Cath Bishop.

In pictures: From Armistead to Ennis, Team GB’s medallists so far.


She celebrated the first in Sydney but the third, in Beijing four years ago, left her inconsolable. Sick of always being the bridesmaid, Grainger spent months considering retirement before eventually deciding on one more shot for gold in London.

For this Olympic campaign Grainger switched to the scull, in which rowers power the boat with an oar in each hand rather than a single oar in two hands.

After a year in the single sculls she eventually doubled up with a new partner. Staffordshire-born Anna Watkins was herself an Olympic medallist with a bronze from Beijing in the double scull.

Near miss

Like Grainger, the 29-year-old knows what it is like to just miss out on a gold, with just 0.23 separating the three Beijing medallists.

The duo, coached by Paul Thompson, were described by the sport’s governing body as the “perfect combination” and were praised for winning their world title in “dominating style” at the 2010 World Championships in New Zealand.

They were named 2010 world rowing female crew of the year and at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Slovenia maintained their title as world champions by leading their race from the start.