Grainger set to make UK competitive return

Katherine Grainger, Great Britain’s most successful female Olympic rower, is set to race competitively in the UK later this month for the first time since winning London 2012 gold.

The Glasgow-born rower who will celebrate her 39th birthday next Wednesday takes the next steps on a potential journey to the Rio Olympic Games at the GB Rowing Team Assessment over the weekend of 15-16 November as will Alan Campbell, the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist who missed out on the Worlds earlier this year.

In Boston, Lincs, Grainger will race against the clock on a rowing machine on the Saturday, train on the water that afternoon and will race a 5km time trial on the Sunday.

As all rowers who competed in the 2014 World Championships are exempt, Grainger’s opposition will come largely from a strong contingent of GB Rowing Team U23s including former World Junior Champion and World U23 finalist, Jess Leyden.

Melanie Wilson, who competed for GB at the Olympic Games and won the double scull at the recent British Rowing Championships in Nottingham, is also on the list of contenders. Her focus last year was on her medical studies.

Grainger has already won three Olympic silvers as well as that memorable gold at London in the double scull with Anna Watkins in an international career spanning back to the 1990s. The six-times World Champion knows that many questioned whether she should return to the sport after such a fairytale performance in 2012.

She has said, however, that during her two-year hiatus from rowing, she began to think about a return to the boat : “People who are very happy and content [in their retirement] say ‘I love watching the sport, I don’t want to do it again – I don’t want to go back to the training regime or to the stress and nerves of competitions’, whereas I was watching it thinking ‘I can do that. I should be doing that. I like doing that!’”.

Grainger, now living in Maidenhead, is also fully aware of the challenges ahead: “When I made the decision, I obviously had Rio in mind – I wouldn’t come back just to do this as a ‘job’. I came back feeling that if it all went right the Rio Olympics was always the goal.

“We’ve got some fantastic experts working all the way across British sport and I feel in very, very safe hands. All of the staff so far have been really positive. They have said, ‘yes, you need to be sensible and of course as you do get older, recovery is more important than ever before but other than that there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be hitting the peaks you have hit before”.

Paul Thompson, the GB Rowing Team’s Chief Coach for Women and Lightweights said: “Katherine has been training hard and well since her return, this will be a good test for her to measure her progress and complete the first part of the selection process for the 2015 season”.

Meanwhile, Campbell will line up against world U23 men’s double scull medallists Jack Beaumont and Angus Groom in the men’s single scull event.

The three times World Championships medallist and eight times GB Rowing Team Senior Team Trials winner (2005-2012) said of his journey back to fitness and squad contention at the beginning of training in September: “I’m back to and raring to go”.

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