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It was one of the enduring sights of the 2008 Olympics: Katherine Grainger, who had just become the first British woman in any sport to have won medals at three successive Games, distraught and crying her eyes out on the podium.

And it now promises to be one of the stories of London 2012 as Grainger has decided to keep on training until the age of 36 in the hope of finally winning gold.

Think Steve Redgrave - after battles with diabetes and colitis - slumped over his blade in relief in Sydney having won his fifth Olympic title.

Think Matthew Pinsent's tears in Athens after his crew overcame losing a team-member to injury at the last minute to win a heart-stopping final and he gained his fourth gold.

Grainger's story may have been less celebrated so far because she has never taken the top step on the podium but it gains even more significance now as she tries once again to do so.

Continue reading "Grainger begins new Olympic rowing epic"

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It is almost as if the life and world I was living in for the past four years has just expired, blown up in a puff of smoke and fireworks. I know it all happened but it almost seems unreal, looking back now.

There are no 6am alarm clocks, the carbon footprint I used to create commuting down the M4 to the GB Rowing training base near Reading, has gone from excessive to almost non-existent; the washing machine is practically dormant, and my food bills must have decreased by about 70%.

I used to spend five or six hours training each day, I am now spending that time slowly working through a four-year long to-do list, and figuring out what I am going to do with my life.

Continue reading "What do I do now?"

Thursday's parade in London completely blew me away. It was a day I will never forget and one that confirmed my belief that the London Olympics in 2012 are going to be more passionate than any other.

Just seeing the emotion on some people's faces in the crowd brought me to tears; people shouting "thank you" and "well done" and jumping up and down. But really it was us that wanted to say "thank you" to them.

When everything is hurting during a race and you've tried everything, it is the knowledge that so many people back home and in the crowds are willing us on that carries us over the line. The support and enthusiasm of the British people are like nothing else I've ever experienced.

Continue reading "Tide of emotion in Trafalgar Square"

Andy Hodge has a neat way of summing his next mission up. "It's all about building on this," he says pointing to his pocket. In it is his first Olympic gold medal.

Hodge isn't just talking about a plan to aim to repeat the feats of the Great Britain coxless four in London in four years' time. He's also alluding to the plans the wider rowing world has in place to build on the success of Beijing. But more of that later.

Many of the rest of the 23 British rowers who came back from Beijing with medals have got some thinking to do over the next few months. Do they want to go through another punishing four years to compete in front of a home crowd in 2012?

Continue reading "What now for Olympic rowers?"

The dust has been settling over the past few days and although I don't think our disappointment at not winning the gold will ever go away, I am beginning to put things into more perspective day by day.

We actually had a great race and I honestly don't know what we could have done to go faster.

If I had my day again I wouldn't change what we did; physically and tactically we put together the best race we ever have; we went as fast as we possibly could on the day. And as an athlete this is the most I have ever asked of myself.

Continue reading "Gradually putting silver in perspective"

Shunyi Rowing-Canoeing Park, Beijing

On the day of the opening ceremony I asked British Rowing's performance director David Tanner if he had seen that morning's China Daily.

Above a preview of the Olympic rowing competition, China's English-language newspaper claimed, in 48pt bold type, "British rowing losing grip". This followed a less than spectacular prediction of three medals for Team GB's rowers from US magazine "Sports Illustrated".

Tanner's response was concise, curt and correct: "I think some people are going to be looking a bit stupid in a week's time."

I spoke to Tanner again today and, while he was too modest to really gloat, "how do you like them apples?" would be a fair estimation of what he told me.

Continue reading "Rowers rule but they're still not perfect"

It's so hard to describe how it feels as we make the final preparations for Sunday's final.

We have spent the week working on all the aspects of rowing and our racing that we think could possibly give us more boat speed.

We were pleased with our heat, and it was a good win for us, but we know that the final will be on an entirely different level.

Continue reading "Women's quad enter final countdown"

Storms caused havoc for a while at the Olympics today. Rain, wind, thunder and lightning swept through Beijing and Shunyi again - turning Olympic fans into pixies as they snapped up cheap plastic macs (price: five yuan = 40p) to protect them from the elements.

Apparently the parents of Aberdonian David Florence, who won a rare canoeing silver earlier in the week, were close to a lightning strike at the Great Wall and as a result were checked over by the British Olympic Association's medical team - but thankfully found to be uninjured.

Back in Olympic Green, it looked like a Smurf convention was in full swing as thousands of Chinese tried to make the best of it (macs come in blue, white, yellow and pink and quickly sold out).

Presenters John Inverdale and Sir Steve Redgrave managed to find a pair however, as they broadcast live from the rowing lake at Shunyi, which was worst-hit by the weather, causing chuckles from those who watched them on TV.

Continue reading "Storms bring out the Smurfs"

"British rowing losing grip", shouted a China Daily headline this week - not a question, a statement.

It was above an interview with Steve Williams, the only member of the 2004 gold medal-winning coxless four to still be in the boat in Beijing.

The general tone of the piece was that without the gold-laden heroes of yesteryear, Team GB's hopes in the rowing regatta had sprung a leak.

That withering analysis followed another underwhelming assessment of our prospects from Sports Illustrated.

Continue reading "Time for new crop of GB rowers to exceed past glories"

It is now pre-pre-race day - two days to go for us, one day for the smaller boats, and just a few hours until the opening ceremony.

Unfortunately, we cannot march in the stadium though, as the ceremony goes on until very late; it would be like going out for a big night out two days before racing.

It is a real shame, as the opening ceremony in Sydney was absolutely awes-inspiring and an experience I will never forget.

Continue reading "Rowers having our own opening ceremony"

GB sailor Ben Ainslie (left) and cyclist Bradley Wiggins

Just six British Olympians have won three or more Olympic gold medals.

Continue reading "Olympic countdown - 3 days - Triple gold"


I am glad we were prepared for the heat out here as it is incredible.

Imagine your mother is standing in the doorway on a hot summer's day with the thickest winter feather duvet she has. She wraps you around and around in it and then tucks in all the edges, then gives you a big hug, rubbing up and down to create more heat, before you try and walk off.

Then, when you try to breath it is like being in bed and putting the duvet over your head to cut out the light and make it dark. You can hardly breathe because the air is so hot and oppressive.

Continue reading "Like the week before Christmas - but far hotter"

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