Interview with Dame Katherine Grainger

Interview with Dame Katherine Grainger

Katherine is Britain’s most decorated female Olympic athlete and the first British woman to win medals at five successive games.

What's the best piece of feedback you've ever been given?
Could you do it better?

What's the main thing that's driven or motivated you?
A desire to be better and to do things that haven’t been done before, to push through existing limits both personally and professionally.

What would you like to be remembered for?
As someone who persevered and fought for their dreams.

What did it take to get you where you are today?
Resilience, persistence, a sense of humour, empathy and a lot of support.

Who inspires you?
A huge range of people from rowers that have gone before me blazing a path, to friends and family, to strangers whose stories I've read about in the papers or have heard in person - I find people endlessly fascinating and inspirational.

What's the one thing you'd like to be better at?

If you didn't do this for a living what else would you do?
Plan A was to have been a criminal barrister.

What does success mean to you?
Success means having made a positive difference in some way.

What will you do next?
That’s the one question I am still struggling with but I am excited about finding the answer.

What lessons can others take from your success?
Hopefully that it is always worth having a dream, something you can believe in passionately and absolutely and you can try to make it a reality.

What three words describe you?
Loyal, fun, curious.

What are you most proud of?
London 2012 was the highlight of my rowing career and to win the Olympics at my 4th attempt in front of a home crowd as part of an amazing partnership with Anna Watkins was the happiest and proudest moment. I felt a huge responsibility to deliver that result and I’m proud that under intense pressure we delivered in style.

What has been your biggest regret/set back/failure?
Beijing 2008 was the lowest point of my professional career, as although we won a silver medal, we had set our sights, our expectations and our dreams only on the gold medal. We were in a leading position in the Olympic final and lost by about a second after four years of utter dedication, excellent teamwork and meticulous planning. It was heartbreaking and took a long time to not feel that we were failures.

If you had your time again what would you do differently?
Nothing, everything I have done has made me the person I am today and I’m happy with that.

Katherine is an official Learnfest 2017 headliner. You can book your tickets for the festival here.