Katherine Grainger was listening to Adam Peaty explain how he was only six-years-old watching the Sydney Olympics in 2000 when she grimaced.
She was flabbergasted. That was the 40-year-old rower’s first Games at a time when Peaty, now 21, who became one of the stars of Rio when he smashed the 100m breaststroke world record to win gold, was just getting over his fear of water.
Grainger, meanwhile, was on the start of her long journey to becoming the first British woman to win medals at five consecutive Games, culminating in her double sculls silver in Brazil and including that memorable gold in London 2012.
It is why she is so well placed to give her verdict on whether Team GB becoming the first nation to immediately better their medal haul — from 65 to 67 — from a home Games is the greatest achievement we have had at a sporting event.
‘The lovely thing is the London Games were undoubtedly a huge inspiration for the nation and I think we all felt that it couldn’t be replicated again, it was a once in a lifetime moment,’ she said.
‘We’ve only seen a taste of the post-Rio feeling, we had cabin crew on the flight saying you have no idea what you’re walking back into. They were quite emotional to meet some of us.
‘The reaction has already been phenomenal and that’s a small taste of when we go back to our home cities and towns, you get to see the reaction there.
‘Moments like that, it’s almost felt like it’s been a tough year for the country, a lot has happened politically as a nation in the last few months, the nice thing about sport, it lifts people, for a short while you can have a lot of very positive news stories, the time and the place and the timing means it is one of the best sporting events we’ve probably ever had.’
When it comes to the progression of Team GB into what has recently been described as a ‘superpower of Olympic sport’, Grainger has seen it all.
Her five Games have spanned 16 years and including her four-year preparation for the first that means she has devoted half of her life to representing her nation.
‘I’ve been in the team a long time, we don’t need to say dates or ages,’ she said, still reeling from Peaty’s revelation.
‘I really have seen it develop, almost from when the National Lottery funding came in. The team is a very confident team that’s flourished over the last 20 years.
‘We’ve got people who’ve been there and done it, there are really inspirational leaders at the top who have been successful in the past, the path is much clearer on how to prepare for and deliver big results.’
Article care of Daily Mail