Grainger eyes career-defining gold

03 August 2012 / 07:23

Katherine Grainger was today heading into the race she hoped would define her career.

After three consecutive silver medals and 12 years as an Olympic bridesmaid, Grainger and her double sculls partner Anna Watkins began as favourites to win gold.

Grainger has been in that position before. In Beijing the British quadruple scull were favourites, only to be rowed agonisingly into silver by China in the last 250 metres. Missing out on gold in Beijing left Grainger distraught and contemplating retirement. The whole of British rowing - the whole of British sport - was hoping this time would be different.

The portents suggested it would be.

Grainger and Watkins are double world champions and unbeaten in 22 races since they were first paired together in 2010. The chemistry was immediate and they appeared invincible on Monday, smashing the Olympic record in a time four seconds faster than the other heat winners Australia.

And Grainger insisted there was still more to come from the British crew.

"We were a bit surprised we got the Olympic record. Anna deliberately held us steady for the second half of the race," Grainger said.

"Part of me would have loved to lift the roof off the boat and see how fast we can go but we know we've got that in the final. There's really quite a big amount to come.

"This is the one we want more than anything. Of all my Olympic experiences before, this is the important one."

Britain had a quadruple scull - Stephen Rowbotham, Charles Cousins, Tom Solesbury and Matt Wells - competing in an Olympic final for the first time today, while Alan Campbell had strong medal chances in the single scull.

The new-look men's pair of Will Satch and George Nash also displayed their own medal ambitions in winning their semi-final, although New Zealand's dominant Eric Murray and Hamish Bond appeared likely to have the gold medal sewn up.