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Dame Katherine Jane Grainger, DBE (born 12 November 1975), is a British rower and with five Olympic medals is Great Britain's most decorated female Olympian.[3] She is a 2012 Summer Olympics gold medallist, four-time Olympic silver medallist and six-time World Champion.[4] Since 2015 she has been chancellor of Oxford Brookes University.

Dame Katherine Grainger
Katherine Grainger Parade.jpg
Grainger with her Olympic gold medal
Personal information
Birth nameKatherine Jane Grainger[1]
Nationality Great Britain
Born (1975-11-12) 12 November 1975 (age 43)
Glasgow, Scotland
ResidenceMaidenhead, Berkshire, England
Alma mater
Height1.82 m (5 ft 11 12 in)
Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University
Assumed office
20 March 2015
Vice-ChancellorAlistair Fitt
CountryUnited Kingdom
SportWomen's rowing
Event(s)Double Sculls
College teamEdinburgh University Boat Club
ClubSt Andrew Boat Club
Coached byPaul Thompson

Grainger 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. In Beijing 2008 she won her third silver, again in the Quadruple Sculls.

At the London Olympics 2012, Anna Watkins and Grainger broke the Olympic record as they qualified for the Double Sculls final, before going on to win the gold medal. Grainger secured a silver medal at the Rio Olympic Games 2016 with Victoria Thornley, after a two-year break from the sport. Grainger has won eight medals at World Championships, between 1997 and 2011.


Early life and educationEdit

Grainger's family moved to Netherley, Aberdeenshire. She attended Bearsden Academy.

Grainger holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from the University of Edinburgh,[citation needed] a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in Medical Law and Medical Ethics from the University of Glasgow,[citation needed] and a Doctor of Philosophy in law from King's College London.[2] Her doctoral research was supervised by Elaine Player and Ben Bowling.[2] In July 2013 King's made Grainger a fellow.[5] She remarked, "Without planning it both my Olympic career and my PhD have met at the same time and the culmination for both is 2012 – not by design."[6]



Grainger took up rowing at the University of Edinburgh in 1993 and represents Edinburgh's St Andrew Boat Club and/or Marlow Rowing Club in rowing events. She trained on the River Dee.

She first won silver at Sydney in 2000 in the woman's quadruple sculls with Guin Batten, Gillian Lindsay and Miriam Batten losing to a German team. Four years later in Athens in 2004, she won silver again when she took part in the coxless pairs with Cath Bishop, losing to Georgeta Damian and Viorica Susanu of Romania. She returned to the quadruple sculls in Beijing 2008, when she won her third silver with Annabel Vernon, Debbie Flood and Frances Houghton, narrowly losing to China after taking the lead for some of the race. On 3 August 2012, she won an Olympic gold medal at London in the double sculls with Anna Watkins. At the 2016 Olympics, she won a silver medal in double sculls with Vicky Thornley.

Grainger has won eight medals at the World Championships. The first of these was a bronze in 1997 in the eight, then a gold with Bishop in 2003, a gold in 2005 with the quadruple scull, with Houghton, Sarah Winckless, and Rebecca Romero, and in 2006 her quadruple scull were promoted to gold following a drugs test on the winning Russian crew. This quad had Debbie Flood instead of Romero, who had retired after the 2005 world championships.

Another gold came in 2007, again in the quadruple sculls, with Annabel Vernon replacing the injured Sarah Winckless. In 2009, having switched to the single scull after the Beijing Olympics, Grainger claimed a surprise silver at the World Championships in Poland. In 2010, Grainger teamed up with Anna Watkins in the Double Sculls and they embarked on an unbeaten season, culminating in victory in November in the World Championships in Lake Karapiro, New Zealand and then defending the title in an injury disrupted season in 2011, in Bled, Slovenia.

She has won the Rowing World Cup in the Quadruple Sculls in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2010 and the Double Sculls in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

On 14 March 2015 Grainger was part of the composite crew that won the Women's Eights Head of the River Race on the River Thames in London, setting a time of 18:58.6 for the 4 1⁄4-mile (6.8 km) Championship Course from Mortlake to Putney.[7] Her GB rowing team senior final trials results include:

  • 2015 - 2nd, Single Scull [8]
  • 2012 – 1st, Single Scull
  • 2011 – 2nd, Single Scull
  • 2004–2010 – 1st, Single Scull
  • 2001 – 1st, Double Scull
  • 1998 – 1st, Single Scull


In April 2017 Grainger was appointed chair of UK Sport.[9] In March 2015, Grainger was appointed the fourth Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University, in a ceremony joined by her three predecessors Shami Chakrabarti CBE, Jon Snow and Baroness Helena Kennedy QC.[10]

Charity workEdit

Grainger is a serving board member of International Inspiration, a charity that promotes access to sport, play, and physical exercise for low and middle income families with children around the world. It is the first international development legacy initiative linked to an Olympic and Paralympic Games.[11] International Inspiration's board members include British broadcaster David Davies, former UK government minister Andrew Mitchell, and Sir Sebastian Coe.[12]

In 2014 she judged the category prize 'dreams' for the Koestler Trust's annual exhibition Catching Dreams, curated by previous Koestler award entrants. The exhibition at the Southbank Centre presented art works by prisoners, detainees and ex-offenders.[13]

Honours and awardsEdit

Grainger was elected President of the Edinburgh University Boat Club in 1996/97. She was elected the Edinburgh University Sports Union's female athlete of the winner (Eva Bailey Cup) in 1995/96 and 1996/97 and was inducted to the University's Sports Hall of Fame on 29 May 2008.

She was elected as honorary president of the Scottish Amateur Rowing Association in November 2005, and a steward of Henley Royal Regatta in 2008, only the third rower to be elected while still competing.[14]

She was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2006 Birthday Honours, Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to rowing,[15][16] and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to sport and charity.[1][17]

In March 2013, she became patron of the National Coastwatch Institution.[18]

In June 2017, Grainger was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Aberdeen.[19]

In July 2017, it was announced that trophy awarded to the winners of the Senior Women's competition at the Home International Regatta would be known as the Dame Katherine Grainger Quaich. The first winners of the trophy were Scotland.[20]


  1. ^ a b "New Year's Honours list 2017" (PDF). Government Digital Service. 30 December 2016. p. 9. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Grainger, Katherine Jane (2013). The 'whole life order' : its genesis, the challenges it both poses and faces, and its uncertain future. (PhD thesis). King's College London. OCLC 1027309793. EThOS
  3. ^ British Olympic Association profile
  4. ^ "Katherine GRAINGER". 12 November 1975. Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  5. ^ "Profile - Dame Katherine Grainger DBE". Dame Katherine Grainger DBE. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
  6. ^ "London 2012: Katherine Grainger on turning silver into gold". BBC Sport. 12 April 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 August 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-10.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "Gregory and Sbihi are top guns in Boston". British Rowing. Archived from the original on 5 November 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  9. ^ "Katherine Grainger: UK Sport names Olympic gold medallist as new chair". BBC Sport. 21 April 2017. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
  10. ^ "Welcoming our new Chancellor on an extra special day. - Oxford Brookes University". 24 March 2015. Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  11. ^ "Committed to human and social development". International Inspiration. Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  12. ^ "Meet the board". International Inspiration. Archived from the original on 21 October 2014. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
  13. ^ "MULTI-ARTFORM Themed Category". Koestler Trust. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  14. ^ "BBC SPORT | Olympics | Grainger to row on in gold hunt". BBC News. 12 December 2008. Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  15. ^ "No. 60367". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 2012. p. 24.
  16. ^ "2013 New Year's Honours" (PDF). Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  17. ^ "No. 61803". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2016. p. N8.
  18. ^ "New Patron For NCI". Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Scotland's women awarded Dame Katherine Grainger Quaich". Scottish Rowing. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
Academic offices
Preceded by
Shami Chakrabarti
Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University
Succeeded by