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Katherine Grainger

Katherine Grainger

  • Alumni

Olympic Rower


Dame Katherine Grainger (PhD Law, 2013) is one of Great Britain’s most decorated Olympians and the first British woman to win medals at five successive games.

Katherine took up rowing in 1993, whilst studying law at the University of Edinburgh. She made quick progress in the sport, winning her first international gold medal in the 1997 U23 World Rowing Championships.

Katherine went on to win eight World Championship and five Olympic medals. She won silver medals at both the Sydney and Athens Olympics and again alongside her fellow King’s alumnae Frances Houghton (Hispanic Studies, 2003) and Annabel Vernon (International Relations, 2007) in Beijing 2008. London 2012 saw her secure that elusive gold medal and she finished her rowing career with a silver medal in Rio 2016.

Alongside her rowing, Katherine completed an MPhil at Glasgow University before starting her PhD at King’s. Her research explored the genesis and challenges of the whole life order, introduced in the Criminal Justice Act 2003, under which those sentenced face life-long incarceration with no possibility release.

Katherine was awarded a CBE for services to rowing in 2013 and a DBE in the 2017 New Year’s Honours list. She is now Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University and the Chair of UK Sports, the government organisation responsible for directing the development of elite-level sport within the UK. As a King’s Fellow, Katherine still regularly visits to speak at the university.

Did you know? Katherine is a keen juggler, although admits ‘I haven’t made the flaming batons…yet’.