Magic of competing at the Olympics has not worn off

Veteran British rower Katherine Grainger says the magic of competing in the Olympics “still hasn’t worn off” as she seeks to write another fairytale chapter in her glittering career.

Appearing in her fifth Games, the 40-year-old is hoping to add another medal to her collection of one gold and three silvers tomorrow when she and Victoria Thornley contest the final of the double sculls.

Grainger, who is Britain’s joint most decorated female Olympian with swimmer Rebecca Adlington, says she still gets “spine-tingly” at the prospect of competing again.

She said: “For me, the Olympics has always been somewhere magical and really quite special because it takes a lot of work to get there.

“But the magic still hasn’t worn off, it honestly hasn’t, it’s the same. It still gets spine-tingly, it’s still the same excitement and it still makes you want to do it all again.

“Growing up you just think to reach any Olympic Games, to be part of that Olympic team, is the most exciting point of any career, so when I got my first Olympics Games the feeling was beyond belief, and fifth time around I still feel the same.

“I don’t think you ever feel complacent or that you’ve been to enough, it’s still exciting and anything could still happen and it’s been the most challenging run-up to an Olympics I’ve had.”

Grainger won gold with Anna Watkins in the double sculls at London 2012, and is hoping to repeat that success after she and Thornley finished second in yesterday’s semi-final, just under two seconds behind Poland’s Magdalena Fularczyk-Kozlowska and Natalia Madaj.

Their hopes of a medal got a boost as the world champions from New Zealand and the much-fancied Australian pair both failed to qualify.

Grainger, from Glasgow, who also won silvers in the Sydney, Athens and Beijing Olympics, returned to the sport in 2014 after a two-year sabbatical.

She and Thornley failed to make the podium at this year’s European Championships in May, but Grainger hopes Team GB supporters — “the best in the world” — will cheer them on.

“Medals are won by split seconds and that support makes the difference,” she said.