Dame Katherine Grainger awarded World Rowing’s Thomas Keller Medal

Dame Katherine Grainger’s outstanding contribution to rowing has been recognised by the sport’s international federation World Rowing (FISA)


Dame Katherine Grainger - Simon Way

The Thomas Keller Medal for 2017 has been awarded to Dame Katherine Grainger in recognition for her outstanding contribution to rowing over the course of more than 20 years.

Grainger is Great Britain’s most decorated female Olympian with five Olympic medals. She won her first Olympic silver medal at Sydney 2000 before going on to win silver at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. At London 2012 she became Britain’s golden girl; crowned Olympic champion alongside Anna Watkins in the double scull. She capped off her hugely successful international rowing career with silver at Rio 2016 alongside Vicky Thornley. Grainger has also won eight medals at the World Rowing Championships.

Grainger has always been the most sporting and humble of competitors. It’s rare that you’d find her without a smile on her face before and after a rowing race, leading to her becoming a popular figure in the boat park. Her sportsmanship is well known, with Grainger regularly having made a point of wishing her fellow competitors well and building strong relationships with them. Rowing is a sport that requires complete immersion and she never lost sight of her duty to work at bringing people together while ensuring she is a leading athlete and role model.

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As well as a long and successful career on the water, Grainger has achieved so much outside of the sport. She graduated with a law degree from Edinburgh in 1997, going on to study for a Master of Philosophy degree at Glasgow University, which she completed alongside her rowing, graduating in 2001. She then went on to complete a PhD at King’s College London in 2012 at the same time as she was competing at her fourth Olympic Games. Grainger has made a significant contribution to the wider sporting landscape and was recently appointed the Chair of UK Sport, which she takes up on 1 July. She has also made a huge positive contribution to many charities across the UK.

On being awarded the Thomas Keller Medal, Grainger said: “It was really an overwhelming moment hearing I had won the Thomas Keller Medal.  I competed at Lucerne so many times when previous athletes had been honoured by the award and they have all been role models to me. It is incredibly humbling to know I’ll be joining that inspiring list of international athletes and I still can’t quite believe it.

“It was also very special to be shortlisted alongside five outstanding athletes including three others from Great Britain.  I think it’s a hugely positive reflection on British Rowing that Tom Aggar, Greg Searle, and Andrew T Hodge were also nominated.  It has been the greatest pleasure to be part of the British Rowing Team, spending time with Tom, Greg and Andy as well as many other wonderful characters at a time when British Rowing has enjoyed so much success.”

Grainger joins a long list of other rowing greats from around the world and becomes the third Brit to receive the medal alongside Sir Matthew Pinsent and Sir Steve Redgrave.

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Commenting on the news, Annamarie Phelps CBE, Chairman of British Rowing said: “I am over the moon for Katherine, she is hugely deserving of this special award. To so many, Katherine has not only been a source of enormous inspiration but also a constant positive force who never fails to make you smile. She has encouraged so many to achieve much more than they ever thought possible, both within rowing and outside of the sport. I am delighted that Katherine has been recognised by World Rowing in this way.”

The Thomas Keller Medal celebrates athletes who have had an outstanding career in rowing. It honours those who have shown exemplary sportsmanship and technical mastery of the sport as well as having shown a legendary aspect both in and outside of their rowing career. The Medal will be presented to Grainger during World Cup III in Lucerne on 8 July.