Katherine kept her Olympic gold medal hopes on track with a strong win in Sunday’s heat of quadruple sculls at the Shunyi rowing course in north Beijing.
With her crew-mates – Annie Vernon, Debbie Flood and Frances Houghton – Katherine took the lead from the first stroke, with Germany chasing them all the way down the course. Germany have dominated this category so much since it was introduced in 1976 that Grainger’s win was the first Olympic defeat the Germans have suffered.
The British kept their bows in front and kept a second and a half lead all the way down the course, no matter what the Germans threw at them.
With only the winners of each of the two heats making direct progress, this win puts Katherine’s crew into next Sunday’s final, where they know they will meet China, who strolled to victory, a massive six seconds up on Ukraine.
The six remaining crews in this event – Germany, USA, Australia, Ukraine, Canada and Russia – now face rowing’s second chance repechage race tomorrow (Tuesday), battling it out for the remaining four places in the final.
After the race, a delighted Katherine said, “we’re really pleased. The primary aim was to be first over the course. That’s half the opposition in that race, so for us to come out on top in that was the best result from that race and we did what it took”.
She added, “we didn’t do any more than we had to. We have a lot more steps than we used today, and we’d expect to find a lot more steps between now and the final. And we’ll need them because it’s going to be a cracking final”.
The crew now have a week before their showdown with China, and the most important race of Katherine’s career. She already is Britain’s most successful female rower, but a win next Sunday would be a historic first for British female rowing. She says, “we’ve got another seven days now to just keep the intensity going. It feels like this is the first step and we’ve still got a lot of steps to go”