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Golden girl Grainger

Posted on 03/08/2012

King’s PhD student Katherine Grainger MBE, together with rowing partner Anna Watkins, has won Olympic gold in the women's double sculls, making history as the first British woman to win medals at four successive Olympic Games. The GB pair, unbeaten since they teamed up in 2010, completed the rowing final over two seconds ahead of second placed Australia with Poland in the bronze position.

At 12:10 this afternoon, in front of a crowd of over 20,000 at Eton Dorney and millions more on television, Grainger and Watkins finished the 2,000 metre race in six minutes 55.82 seconds, winning Britain’s first ever Olympic gold medal in the women's double sculls.

At the semi-final on Monday the pair smashed the Olympic record by nearly five seconds as they won their heat in six minutes 44.33 seconds. Following the race, Grainger told the BBC: ‘You can hear the crowd but you feel it in your body, pulsing through you. We're very lucky to have this incredible support from around the country. It lifts you like nothing else.’

PhD student Katherine Grainger has made history with Olympic rowing gold.

Thirty-six-year-old Grainger is GB’s most successful Olympic female rower, her London 2012 gold medal the crowning glory to three successive silver medals earned at previous Games (Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008). In addition, she holds six world titles and was recognised in 2006 with an MBE for her services to rowing, making her Britain's most decorated female rower.

Alongside training Grainger has pursued an academic career and is currently a doctoral student at King’s in the Dickson Poon School of Law, researching homicide. She told the BBC: ‘Without planning it both my Olympic career and my PhD have met at the same time and the culmination for both is 2012 – not by design.’

In the run up to the Games, Grainger said about her dreams of gold at London 2012: ‘Just because you want it or deserve it or people think it's the right thing to happen, it won't happen because of those reasons... It's been an emotional build-up because clearly the fairytale ending is gold, at last, in front of the home crowd on our home course. I'm very aware that if you could write the story, that's how you'd write it and I think a lot of people around the country would be very relieved that “she's finally done it!” ’

Grainger’s teammate Watkins describes her as a  ‘great ambassador’ for the sport and in a BBC interview said: ‘Women's rowing in the UK absolutely needs someone like Katherine to show what's possible ... I couldn't think of anyone better to be a figurehead for what we're doing and her story is just incredible.

‘She’s an incredibly charismatic leader; she can inspire anyone to do anything. That's who she is as a rower. As a person she's warm, engaging and really caring, really keeps an eye out for everybody. She's absolutely the one person everybody looks up to, without a doubt.’

Congratulating Katherine, Professor Rick Trainor, Principal of King’s said: ‘This extremely well deserved recognition is a credit to Katherine, her distinguished work and her awe-inspiring dedication.  Her spectacular accomplishments are a source of great pride to everyone at King's and many of us were gathered around the television to witness her triumph. Her achievement is such a boost to King's and indeed to the whole of the UK.’

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Image credit: Getty Images

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