Dame Katherine Grainger DBE is Britain’s most decorated female Olympian. With five Olympic medals total made up of one gold and four silver, Katherine is the only female athlete – in any sport – to gain medals in five consecutive Olympic Games. This honour saw her be announced in the 2013 New Years Honours as having been granted a CBE. Her ability to dominate in her sporting arena while also gaining a PhD at one of the top 25 universities in the world has cemented her status as one of the most in demand corporate speakers on the circuit.
“Britain’s most decorated female Olympian of all time”
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.
Katherine first won silver at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 in the woman’s Quadruple Sculls. In Athens in 2004, she won silver in the coxless pairs. And, in Beijing 2008 she won her third silver, again in the Quadruple Sculls. At the London Olympics 2012, Katherine and Anna Watkins broke the Olympic record as they qualified for the Double Sculls final, before going on to win the gold medal. Katherine has also won eight medals at World Championships, between 1997 and 2011.
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.
“their result was outstanding and propelled Katherine into the history books”
Katherine’s achievements have been rewarded with a host of prestigious awards. These have included, being named as Scottish Sportsperson of the Year and awarded the Emirates Lonsdale Trophy by Commonwealth Games Scotland in 2009. This made her 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.
But it was following her triumphant win in London in 2012 that saw Katherine’s notoriety skyrocket. 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, and released her autobiography Dreams Do Come True. She was also elected to the British Olympic Association’s Athlete Commission and became a member of the Board for the charity ‘International Inspiration’.
“Dame Katherine is a peerless leader both on the water and off it. As one of our greatest ever Olympians, she has an outstanding understanding of high performance”
Katherine has been appointed as the chair of UK Sport for a term of four years, Sports Minister Tracey Crouch confirmed on the 21st April 2017. Katherine took up the role on the 1st July 2017. Sports Minister Tracey Crouch said: “Dame Katherine is a peerless leader both on the water and off it. As one of our greatest ever Olympians, she has an outstanding understanding of high performance sport, and through her educational and charity work has a proven commitment to inclusion. I know she will be an inspiring chair of UK Sport. I would also like to thank outgoing chair Rod Carr for his superb work at the helm of UK Sport over the past four years.”
Katherine has also appeared on multiple high-profile TV shows throughout her career. This includes an appearance on the Superstars television show and guest appearances on A Question of Sport, Countdown and the Clare Balding Show on BT Sport. She has also 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.
“Katherine has delivered speeches, … to some of the most prestigious companies across the world”
However, Katherine’s skillset far from ends with the successes within her sporting career. Throughout her time competing Katherine has taken on an active role within education, both in terms of her own academic achievements and supporting those of others. 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. In March 2015 Katherine was inaugurated as Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University, a role she will hold for a 7 year tenure. Katherine is eager to be part of shaping the future of the University and credits her own extensive time in academia for helping shape her rowing career.
Finally, Katherine is a highly sought after keynote and after-dinner speaker. Katherine excels when talking of teamwork, overcoming challenges, motivation, winning and the importance of communication. During her break from the GB rowing squad Katherine spent her time visiting schools and sports club to speak to young people about the importance of sport and pursuing their dreams. Since then, Katherine has delivered speeches, telling a compelling tale of the journey to success to some of the most prestigious companies across the world. These have included, the Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland, Goldman Sachs, Coca Cola and BT.