“Katherine is an iconic figure in the world of rowing. Her continual success for more than a decade elevates Katherine into a class of her own. She exemplifies a rare combination of athletic ability and determination to succeed that can only be seen in great champions.” Sir Steve Redgrave
Katherine was born in Glasgow on the 12th November 1975. She now lives by the Thames, near to the GB Rowing Squad base. She travels home to Scotland whenever possible where her family live in Edinburgh. Her sister Sarah lives in Beverley, East Yorkshire with her partner Steph and son Seth.
Katherine graduated in law from Edinburgh University, then went on to achieve an MPhil in Medical Law and Medical Ethics from Glasgow University, and in May 2013 completed a PhD in the sentencing of homicide at King’s College, University of London.
Katherine took up rowing at Edinburgh University in 1993 and made such good progress she was awarded the Eva Bailey Trophy as their most outstanding female athlete in 1996 and again in 1997 when she won her first international Gold medal at the U23 World Rowing Championships.
She is the Honorary President of the Scottish Amateur Rowing Association and is a member of Edinburgh rowing club St Andrew Boat Club and a member of Marlow Rowing Club. She is also an honorary life member of Aberdeen Boat Club.
In November 2009, Katherine was named as Scottish Sportsperson of the Year and awarded the “Emirates Lonsdale Trophy” by Commonwealth Games Scotland, the first female to win this prestigious award, and in the process leaving such Scottish sporting luminaries as Andy Murray and Sir Chris Hoy in her wake.
In December 2010 Katherine was excited to be awarded an honorary doctorate by The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. In June 2011 she was delighted to receive an honorary doctorate from her former university, Edinburgh University.
In 2012 Katherine’s dreams were realised when she won the elusive Olympic Gold medal alongside teammate Anna Watkins in the double sculls in London. She is Britain’s most successful female rower and the only female athlete – in any sport – to gain medals in four consecutive Olympic Games. Katherine was appointed Commander of the order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to rowing which was announced in the 2013 New Years Honours.
Since winning her Olympic Gold Katherine has been short-listed for the 2012 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award, had a post box in Aberdeen painted gold in her honour, appeared on the Superstars television show and has been a guest on Question of Sport, Countdown and the Clare Balding Show on BT Sport. She was elected to the British Olympic Association’s Athlete Commission and became a member of the Board for the charity ‘International Inspiration’.
In all, Katherine took a 2 year break from the GB Rowing Squad during which time she also completed her PhD and wrote her autobiography ‘Dreams Do Come True’. She spent time working for the BBC as a co-presenter on the Rowing World Cup coverage, the BBC ‘Inspire’ series and as a pundit during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. She spent her spare time visiting schools and sports clubs and developed her natural talents as a keynote/after dinner speaker in which she tells a compelling tale of the journey to success.
The end of 2014 saw a new chapter begin as Katherine returned to the GB Rowing squad and a demanding training regime. At the 2015 World Rowing Championships, Katherine and Victoria Thornley (her new partner in the double scull) qualified the boat class for the Rio Olympic Games in 2016. On the 11 August 2016, Katherine became the most decorated female Olympian of all time winning a silver medal, narrowly missing the gold after leading for 3/4 of the race. For many who had not expected this pairing to even qualify for Rio, their result was outstanding and propelled Katherine into the history books.
In March 2015 Katherine was inaugurated as Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University. Following 5 years in this rewarding role, she became the first female Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, accepting this post in 2020. Katherine was of course, born in Glasgow but also gained her Master of Philosophy degree from the University and is eager to be part of shaping its future.
To round off a most exceptional 20 year rowing career, Katherine was named ‘Dame Katherine Grainger’ in the 2017 New Years Honours List for services to rowing and charity.
Today she invests her considerable talents into the role of Chair at UK Sport, the UK’s high performance agency where she is building on the commitment to excellence that she witnessed as an athlete.