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Rowing - Grainger becomes Britain's most decorated woman Olympian

Published 12 Aug 2016, 00:38 IST
12 Aug 2016, 00:38 IST
Victoria Thornley (GBR) and Katherine Grainger (GBR) celebrate winning the silver medal during the women
Victoria Thornley (GBR) and Katherine Grainger (GBR) celebrate winning the silver medal during the women's rowing double sculls finals in the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Lagoa Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jack Gruber-USA TODAY Sports

By Angus MacSwan

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - A few months ago, it looked like British rower Katherine Grainger might be watching the Olympics back home on television.

On Thursday, she became Britain’s equally-most decorated woman Olympian when she and partner Victoria Thornley won silver in the double sculls on the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon.

It was almost even sweeter as the Britons led for much of the race and looked set for gold. But the Polish duo of Magdalena Fularczyk-Kozlowska and Natalia Madaj pulled hard in the final 100 metres to slip past them and win by 0.95 seconds.

Still, the silver medal was enough to put Grainger in the history books with five medals in five Games, the only British woman athlete to achieve that feat.

The 40-year-old Scot won silvers in Sydney, Athens and Beijing and took gold in London in 2012 with partner Anna Watkins. Her haul is matched only by tennis player Kitty McKane in the 1920s.

"I don’t think you ever feel like you are going to win but we were ahead and it felt good and then you come down very quickly," Grainger told reporters. "It was certainly a dramatic race.

"There is a sense of disappointment that we didn't hold on but it is the most incredible result that I am so proud of because a few weeks ago no-one would have ever expected that from us."

Glasgow-born Grainger, who took up rowing while a law student at Edinburgh University, had taken a two-year sabbatical after her London triumph, returning to training in October 2014.


But she and new partner Thornley did not make the initial squad for Rio.

Their partnership was put on hold after a disappointing European Championships this year and they both tried out unsuccessfully for the women’s eight. They were eventually confirmed for the double sculls.

Thornley, 12 years her junior, paid tribute to Grainger.

"I’m really happy to have raced this race with her. It’s very special. I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else in the boat," she said.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

Modified 20 Dec 2019, 07:46 IST
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