Katherine Grainger Rowing

Hometown: Aberdeen and Maidenhead
Sport: Rowing
Event: Double sculls
Games: Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012, Rio 2016

Katherine is Britain's most successful female rower with Olympic medals in five consecutive Olympic Games. She first took up rowing when she went to Edinburgh University to study Law in 1993. In 1997, Katherine won Gold at the World Under 23 Championships and stood out as an outstanding rower, becoming World Champion six times, as well as gaining Silver medals in the Olympic Games at Sydney, Athens, Beijing and Rio and Gold at London 2012.

As one of the five athlete ambassadors chosen to represent Team GB, Katherine is excited about the effect of her performance and of London 2012 on young athletes: "I'm just delighted that what we achieved seems to have touched so many people, and that the Olympic and Paralympic Games have ignited a fantastic positive spark across the country."

Katherine is a public speaker as well as a rower and studied for a PhD in homicide at the University of London. She likes to go back to Scotland and visit her family as often as possible.

At London 2012, Katherine won the Gold medal in the Double Sculls Rowing event with her partner Anna Watkins.

The following questions were prepared by students at Newbattle Community High School, Dalkeith in October 2014.

Now you have your gold medals what will you target next?
My short term target is finishing my PhD at University. I've been studying for a long time and this is the first time I've been able to take a break from rowing and concentrate on my studies.

In the run up to London 2012 can you describe a typical day in your life?
In the months before the Olympics our whole world revolved around preparing for the biggest race of our lives. Anna and I would meet our coach in the morning about 7.30am and we would go out in the boat for about an hour and 45 mins. Then we would have a break for second breakfast and usually look at some video of us training to check how our technique was and plan what we wanted to improve on. Then we would either be back on the water or on the rowing machine in the gym where we get monitored by physiologists who test how hard we're training. Then lunch. Then into the gym for weights session and after that we often had a meeting with either a physiotherapist to check our bodies are in good condition, or a nutritionist to check we were eating and drinking the right things at the right times or a psychologist to make sure we were mentally prepared for the racing ahead.

What did it feel like 10 seconds before the start gun during your Gold medal race?
It's a very scary, nervous, exciting, wonderful place to be. The best thing is knowing Anna and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else at that moment or with anyone else. We believed in what we could do together and we looked forward to testing it against the best in the world. But my heart was pounding and pulse was racing because it's such a big moment.""

What are your hobbies outside of rowing?
Most of my time gets taken up with studying criminal law, but when I do have a spare moment I love reading and writing and the cinema and catching up with friends. I'm meeting some friends to try archery for a day so that should be fun!

What was your favourite London 2012 moment, apart from winning your Gold medal?
There were so many amazing moments at so many incredible venues by so many wonderful athletes but I think it's hard to beat the Opening Ceremony. The Ceremony itself was fantastic but there's also the feeling that it's all just starting and anything is possible.

At school, what did you want to do when you left?
I really didn't know, I thought of a few different careers I might like to do but I never thought I'd be an athlete. I struggled to think what I really wanted to be but I knew I didn't want a boring life - I certainly didn't get that!

How did you feel as the medal went around your neck at London 2012?
It was the most incredible moment I could have ever imagined, a real dream come true moment. I could not have been happier, it was everything I wanted it to be and so much more.

Were there ever any days in the run up to London 2012 when you felt like saying "no, that's it"?
I never thought that in the run up to the London Games because we all knew how special competing in front of a home crowd would be - it's a very rare experience for an athlete to get to compete at a Home Olympics so I felt very lucky to get the opportunity. But I did think seriously after the Beijing Olympics in 2008 about whether or not it was the right decision to continue or if it was time to stop. It's a lot of hard work with no guarantee of a happy ending.

What advice would you give to someone aspiring to become an Olympian?
I would say it is the most incredible thing to do as an athlete and a fantastic goal to aim for. But it does take a lot of hard work and it's not an easy road. You have to train hard, set really big goals for yourself, keep learning from yourself and the people around you, pick yourself back up when you have disappointments, but remember to have fun along the way. The exciting thing is you are always capable of so much more than you think.

At Get Set Conference London, you were a very relaxed and entertaining speaker who delivered a strong message. Would you ever want to be a Teacher?
Thank you - it was a great Conference to be at. I haven't really thought of being a teacher, although it does run in the family. My mum and dad were teachers and my sister is now!

What was the food like at London 2012?
There is the biggest dining hall you can imagine in the Olympic Village that is open 24 hours a day. The food is for athletes from all around the world so you can get any type of food you can imagine. So it's pretty fantastic!

Would you be the new Sue Barker on Question of Sport?
I'd be happy to fill her shoes if she decides to move on one day!

Rio?
I hear it's a lovely place! I honestly haven't made any decisions yet.

Are you excited that Glasgow has been shortlisted for YOG 2018?
I am very very excited for Glasgow. What a wonderful vibrant and friendly City to host this incredible event. It would be great for Glasgow to follow on from the inspiring success of the London Games and it would be amazing for the whole country to continue the powerful and positive messages that Olympic events deliver.

Why do you think youth festivals like YOG are important?
The Olympic Values are really valuable standards for young people to live by and it's great that the Youth Olympics puts on a huge multi-sport competition but also involves culture and education at the
heart of the event. It's an incredible thing to aim for as a young athlete but it teaches people far more than just how to compete at the top level - the best athletes I know are role models with respect to how they behave as well as how they compete. Festivals like YOG allows young people to learn to be better athletes but also learn to be better people. They are about raising standards in every way.