Katherine and her partner Anna Watkins were handed a tough opener when the draw was made on the eve of the World Rowing Championships in New Zealand.
Included in their heat are strong opposition from Germany, recently-crowned European Champions, and China, with former lightweight champions Finland and Denmark making up the five-crew field. Reigning world champions Poland, who have returned to action after an injury-troubled season, are deserved favourites to win the other heat.
When final declarations were made, the overall entry in the event reduced by two from the original thirteen crews entered and significantly, this means there will be no semi-finals, adding even further pressure to Katherine and Anna to get things right, particularly as only the heat winners will progress straight to the final.
Speaking afterwards, Katherine said, “we’re not in shape for the final yet, so we need the heat to step up to the next level” while Anna added, “we’ll be looking at trying to set the pace in the heat if we can. Then we’ll have a week to set our own standards and build ourselves up for the final”.
More generally, Katherine said, “it took a little while to adjust after we got here. We had good preparations at home and in our German training camp, but after we left the UK we came here and it was different – the whole jetlag thing, so it took a little while to get the boat feeling normal. But now we feel OK”.
After a successful and unbeaten World Cup season, these World Championships are the next big step-up for Anna and Katherine, who both have the 2012 London Olympic Games in their sights. When they reflect on their partnership so far, it is clear there is mutual admiration between the two.
Speaking about being in a crew with Katherine, Anna says, “I really feel that I’ve got to be at the top of my game to do the boat with Katherine justice, which is exciting. We’ve not had a double like this, and it just makes me absolutely determined to get the result I know we’re capable of us”
“The standards that Katherine sets are just phenomenal. The way we train, we don’t waste any time. We really enjoy our training but we don’t cut ourselves any slack. Everything’s got to be not just good enough, but as good as we possibly make it. I really enjoy training like that and the racing is just the same. Even if we’ve won a race, we’ll say ‘we’ve loved every minute of it, but how can we go faster?’ It’s a great way to train and race and I’m just having the time of my life”.
For her part, Katherine adds, “what evens up the partnerships is that, while I’ve got a lot of experience, it’s my first time in the double, whereas Anna’s made the double her event since 2006. It means we both bring so much to the partnership”.
“It’s very serious, we have incredibly high standards and huge expectations, but at the same time we’ve having a real ball doing it. We appreciate how much fun it is, and how good it is I think we’ve got a really exciting combination and the potential is limitless”.