Scottish rower Katherine Grainger became Britain’s most successful female Olympian last night after claiming a silver medal with her partner Victoria Thornley.
The pair came agonisingly close to gold in the women’s 2,000m double sculls, but were beaten by Poland by just half a boat length.
Grainger, 40, now has one gold and four silver medals from her five Olympic Games – taking the title of most decorated female British Olympian from swimmer Rebecca Adlington.
The athlete and her 28-year-old rowing partner were tipped for glory and led the race at Rio almost all the way through, but the Polish crew edged ahead at the end.
Their journey to Brazil has been beset with problems. They abandoned their double scull project midway through the season but reformed after failing to qualify for seats in the eight.
Grainger, an Edinburgh University graduate, returned to the sport less than two years ago having completed a PhD in the sentencing of homicide at King’s College London.
Speaking from her home in Edinburgh, Grainger’s mother Liz said: “We’re thrilled to get a silver medal. “Four silvers and a gold so no-one can complain about that.
“She was interviewed after the race and she said a few months ago she would’ve just died at the thought of getting any medals, so to get a silver and so close to gold is pretty exceptional.
“They did ask about Tokyo in four years’ time and I’m delighted to say she looked at the camera and said: ‘I promise you mum and I will not put you through that.’ So that’s a relief.”
Stewart Harris, sportscotland’s chief executive, watched the rowers win silver at the Lagoa Stadium in Rio.
He said: “I am absolutely delighted to see Scotland’s Katherine Grainger winning yet another Olympic medal to add to her gold from London, and silvers from Sydney, Barcelona and Athens.
“She and partner Vicky Thornley didn’t have the easiest journey into these Games so to see their perseverance rewarded with an Olympic medal for Team GB is terrific.
“Katherine is now Britain’s most decorated female Olympian, an accolade that has come as the result of her complete commitment and dedication to her sport. Katherine is an incredible role model, inspiring others to be the best that they can be and leading by example.
“At sportscotland we are working closely with Scottish Rowing to continue her legacy by creating more opportunities to take up the sport at every level.”