Katherine reveals the inspiration behind her PhD in Homicide

As the gold medallist prepares for the Great Scottish Run, she tells how watching detective dramas helped her to chill out before the Olympic Games.

Katherine Grainger on the banks of the Clyde on Friday.
Katherine Grainger on the banks of the Clyde on Friday. Photo Mark Anderson.


She is known as an Olympic gold medallist but when she isn’t rowing to glory Katherine Grainger likes kicking back with a Taggart box set.

Katherine, 37, who has also won three consecutive Olympic silvers, not only finished her autobiography Dreams Do Come True this year but she also completed a PhD in homicide.

The Glasgow-born rower revealed that her childhood played a big part in feeding her interest in criminal law as her grandad was a policeman.

She said: “My grandparents lived in Aberdeen and I used to love going to see them.

“My grandmother loved watching murder mysteries like Agatha Christie and my sister and I would watch these with her.

“My grandad’s job also fascinated me. He kept some of his things in the cupboard under the stairs, including his wooden baton.

“When he went out we would play with them and pretend we were police officers.

“And we would always try to drag stories out of him but he didn’t talk about his work much.

“He used to live in what was known as a jail house, where a room in the local cop’s home was used as a makeshift cell.

“My parents told me that my grandmother, who was an amazing baker, would feed the prisoners and my grandad would give her into trouble for it.”

Katherine, who will be at this year’s Great Scottish Run to motivate those taking part, became hooked on Scots detective drama Taggart when she was a student at Edinburgh University.

She said: “They came to film a scene in the college and I was so excited for weeks.

“In the end, they filmed a taxi driving in and out of the college about 16 times. I loved it, though. I am a big Taggart fan.”


Katherine with Anna after clinching Olympic Gold
Katherine with Anna Watkins after clinching the Olympic gold. Photo: Harry How/Getty Images.


When she was training for last year’s Olympics, Katherine and rowing partner Anna Watkins would watch box sets of Danish crime drama The Killing to help them chill out in the run-up to the Games. Katherine said: “The pressure was mounting, so in between our intense training sessions Anna and I would quiz each other on the episodes and give our thoughts on who we thought was guilty.

“We would talk over our theories over a cup of coffee. It was a good distraction. We also watched CSI and The Bridge.”

Katherine has now completed her PhD in law and her supervisor is thinking of publishing her work as an academic book.

She added: “I wrote almost all my autobiography and my PhD in Scotland.

“I stayed in a lodge at Loch Lomond in March. It was such an inspiring location.

“I spent 10 days there and it was the perfect place to get me started. I grew up in Glasgow so I used to go there a lot.

“I brought a big box of diaries and things I had collected throughout my life. Then I opened the laptop and started writing.

“It was so isolated, there were no distractions and I completely lost track of time. My normal life is so busy so this was the ideal location for me.

“It was like going back in time – it felt a bit strange and emotional.

“I even started writing in the present tense as it was like I was reliving it all.

“The girls on my rowing team said they had forgotten so much and had really enjoyed reading the book.

“But I was quite nervous about their response.

“Because I was writing my book and my PhD at the same time, it was like I had two different personalities.

“For my PhD I had to be really specific and analytic. Yet my book was full of colour and it was more natural to write. Anyone can pick it up and enjoy it.”

Katherine is now getting ready to start the Great Scottish Run and cheer on the crowds as they complete the 10k and half marathon courses in Glasgow in October.


Young star was already a keen athlete
Young star was already a keen athlete.


She said: “As an athlete, this is a really great event for me to go to. There is so much enthusiasm and it’s going to be a fantastic atmosphere.

“I will be there to get people motivated as running is now my specialist subject.

“I ran the Edinburgh half marathon with my sister this year. It was great to take part in something just for fun without worrying about my time or where I finished.

“When you do something for the first time there are no standards or times to beat. You can have fun.

“I would like to do the half marathon in Glasgow. The route sounds amazing.

“You always feel better once you have done an event like this.”

After the Great Scottish Run, Katherine is hoping to have a long overdue holiday as her life has been non-stop since her Olympic triumph last year.

She added: “I am hoping to book a trip to South America. It will be good to get a mental rest.

“I’ve not really stepped back since last year. I still think about the Games every day. It was the highlight of my life.

“My mum, dad and my sister have always been there for me – even if I was last in a race they would still love me.

“They are so proud of me as they know how hard I have worked.”

Article Courtesy of the Daily Record/Sunday Mail

Written by Emma Cook