Katherine starts her quest for Olympic gold on Sunday 10th August, at 9.40am British time when the opening heats of her quadruple sculls category are staged on the Shunyi rowing centre in north Beijing.
With only one direct qualifying place for next weekend’s final up for grabs, Grainger and her crew-mates Annie Vernon, Debbie Flood and Frances Houghton have a tough opener.
They will race defending Olympic champions Germany, who have won this category at every Olympics since it was introduced in 1976, and, sitting on their other side, USA, who surprisingly pushed Grainger and her crew into third place the last time they raced, in World Cup action in Lucerne in May.
As expected, because of seeding arrangements, Grainger’s crew have avoided their main rivals China, who won in Lucerne after being beaten by the British quartet in the season opener in Germany.
Both Britain and China are expected to win their heats, setting up a winner-takes-all head-to-head for gold on Sunday 17th.
Katherine is fully aware of how high the stakes are this week. “the Olympics is so incredibly different from everything else we do” she says. “You need to use that in a positive way. The pressure is more immense, the sense of occasion is much bigger. There’s no point in pretending it’s not the Olympics, you have to use it to inspire you”. Tellingly, she adds, “you can’t be paralysed by the fear of failure”.