Returning Watkins drawn back by lure of the Olympics
Rowing

Returning Watkins drawn back by lure of the Olympics

11 August 2015 / 09:20

She may have been drawn back to the boat by the lure of trying to qualify for Rio 2016, but Olympic champion Anna Watkins knows there is plenty of hard work ahead of her if she wants to make the start line in Brazil.

Watkins partnered Katherine Grainger to double sculls gold at London 2012 but revealed in January 2014 she would not defend her title after giving birth to her first son.

She has welcomed a second son since then too, but the 32-year-old has now made the decision to return to the water in a comeback bid for Rio.

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Her partner Grainger has also returned to the sport following London too, coming out of retirement in September 2014 and winning double sculls bronze alongside Vicky Thornley at the European Championships in May.

Those two will team up again at next month’s World Championships with Watkins, meanwhile, working on stepping up her progress after returning to training a few months ago.

But despite her and Grainger’s impressive unbeaten record of 23 races between 2010 and 2012, Watkins knows she will have to work hard to get back to her previous level – a challenge she is relishing.

"I want to see what this old, clapped-out, two-babies body is capable of," she said.

"I initially just wanted to get fit and feel like myself again but the lure of the Olympics was just too strong.

"It's been made pretty clear that there will be no special treatment.

"Just because Katherine and I were successful before, it doesn't mean we will be automatically given preference again, especially as I have no history over the past few years. I have to prove myself.

"I spoke to Katherine and she said that when she went on the first camp she woke up one morning and said 'oh my God, what the hell am I doing here?' and I'm sure I'll be the same.

"But this ridiculous idea has worked its way into my head and I know the chance isn't going to be on the table forever, so I want to give it a crack and see if I can pull it off."

Watkins will be 33 at the time of the Rio Games although she admitted this year’s return of Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill following the birth of her own son had helped with her own decision.

And with the excitement of getting back in the boat, Watkins was placing the emphasis on enjoyment rather that expectation levels.

"I cannot go into this with a gold or bust mentality because bust is a realistic outcome. I have to be prepared for that," she added.

"The golden scenario - that it all comes good and Katherine and I get to defend the title - is great but there's no pressure, in a nice way, and that's quite liberating.

"I'm sure I'll care pretty seriously about the results when it comes to it but just now I can just enjoy it."

© Sportsbeat 2015