With Olympic silver medals from Sydney in 2000, Athens in 2004, and Beijing in 2008, as well as four world championships titles in her collection, Katherine is Britain’s most successful female rower.She was appointed MBE in 2006 for services to rowing, and her Olympic achievements make her the first female British athlete – in any sport – to gain medals in three consecutive Olympic Games.Katherine has an Honours law degree from Edinburgh University, a Master of Philosophy degree in Medical Law from Glasgow University and is currently studying for a PhD in law at King's College LondonOriginally from Glasgow, Katherinen Grainger MBE studied at Edinburgh University, where she took up rowing in 1993.Her international rowing career took off in 1997 when she raced in a coxless pair with Francesca Zino from Cambridge University and won the gold medal at the World under 23 Rowing Championships, setting a new record for the event. On their return home, Katherine and Francesca raced for seats in Britain’s senior women’s eight and went on to compete in that year’s World Championships where the eight won bronze, the first time a British women’s eight had medalled at World Championship level.In 1999 Katherine raced in the quadruple sculls crew, finishing 7th at that year’s World Championships and the following year, at her first Olympic Games in Sydney, won silver in the quad, alongside fellow-Scot Gillian Lindsay and sisters Miriam and Guin Batten.
In 2003 Katherine forged a new partnership with Cath Bishop to race in coxless pairs.This resulted in her first World title when Katherine and Cath won gold at the World Championships in Milan, storming through the field from fourth to first in the last 600 metres, toppling the reigning World and Olympic champions from Romania.
The victory was a great breakthrough and hopes were high that they could add Olympic gold in Athens. However, throughout the 2004 season they could not defeat the experienced Romanians. In the Olympic final in Athens, the British pair could not catch the Romanians despite their traditional mid-course surge, which took them from fourth to second place and a superb silver medal.
Following Cath Bishop’s retirement, Katherine moved back to the quadruple scull in 2005. That was a successful season with golds in the World Cups at Eton and Munich and culminating in a hard fought victory at the World Championships in Japan for the quad.
The World Cup Series in 2006 brought more success for the quad, with gold in all three stages, in Poznan, Munich and Lucerne. The 2006 World Championships took place on home waters at Eton, which will be the Olympic rowing venue for the 2012 London Olympic Games. In this final, Katherine’s crew fought an intense battle with Russia and were just beaten to the line in the dying metres of the race, to take silver. However, their Russian conquerors later fell foul of a drugs test and the British women's quartet were restored, in January 2007, as rightful world champions once more.
In 2007, still at stroke in the quad, Katherine medalled at each of the World Cups and won the overall series title again. The quad then went on to successfully defend their world title at the World Championships in Munich.Having raced in two World Cups in 2008, the focus for Katherine and her quad moved to the Beijing Olympics, where she won her historic third Olympic medal – silver.Following the Beijing Olympic Games, Katherine took an extensive period away from the sport, but eventually decided to once again carry on the demanding lifestyle of a full-time rower, this time focused on the 2012 Olympic Games in London.For the 2009 season, Katherine moved on to a new challenge and raced in the single sculls category for the first time internationally.She won the opening World Cup event in Banyoles, Spain, but failed to medal in the next two World Cup rounds. However, she stormed back with an outstanding performance at the World Championships in Poznan, Poland. She led the field for most of the way but eventually, in increasingly choppy waters, she had no answer for the charge of reigning champion Ekaterina Karsten from Belarus, to cross the line in a deserved second place and add another silver to her collection.Roll of Honour
World under 23 Championships
Olympic Games, Sydney
Olympic Games, Athens
Olympic Games, Beijing