Damehood sets “new standard” to step up to

Olympic gold medal-winning rower Katherine Grainger has said being made a Dame has given her a “new standard” to step up to.

She said being awarded the title is an “enormous honour” which she did not really expect and has opened up a new road following her retirement from rowing.

Ms Grainger became the most-decorated female British Olympic athlete ever on winning silver at Rio.

She narrowly missed out on gold in the women’s double sculls with Vicky Thornley, having returned to the sport less than two years previously after completing a PhD.

The Glasgow-born Olympian now has five medals, including gold from London 2012 and silver from each Olympics dating back to Sydney 2000.

She said: “What is lovely when you hear the titles and the names of the New Year honours list, if anything it makes you feel you have to step up again.

“It is something to live up to – it is almost like a new standard.

“Although I have done a lot in my own sport and achieved a lot, hopefully been an inspiration in that way, but the road doesn’t end there.

“It is almost like a new road opens up and there are still opportunities to inspire and change for good, that is what the challenge is next and that is really exciting.”

She said having no specific plan for the future for the first time in decades is “quite disconcerting” but she hopes to increase her charity work.

Katherine received the Olympian’s Olympian Award at the Team GB Ball

She said: “I had very clear plans for a good 20 years of my life, there has been some amazing high points and some heartbreaking low points, but it has all been part of this incredible journey which, as an Olympic athlete, you have the joy of going on.

“Now, suddenly, that is kind of behind me and for the first time am looking forward into a world where I don’t really know what form or shape it is going to take.

“The honour is for sport, but also for charity, and I think that it is lovely that a lot of athletes have been able to give a lot back, and it is some of the areas I will probably go into when I move into other worlds and be able to do more charity work.

“It is a big thing to be able to feel that everything you gained from your athletics career you can help other people in situations while you have got a chance.”

Ms Grainger said she did not struggle to keep the news secret and told her family when they were all together at Christmas.

She said: “It has been easy to keep in some ways because it is an enormous honour and one I did not really expect, so in a way by not telling anyone, it didn’t feel real yet.

“The lovely thing is I have a wonderful family and very, very good friends around me.

“They keep my feet very firmly on the ground and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I would not want anything else, it is such a lovely honour to get.”

Mother Liz Grainger said her daughter is due to arrive in Edinburgh on Friday night and the family plans to celebrate with “lots and lots of Champagne” adding that her daughter “is leaving women’s rowing in a very strong position”.

Article Care of Glasgow Live