Katherine Grainger may bid for fifth medal in Rio

Olympic rowing champion Katherine Grainger was promoting the boat race. Picture: Sean Dempsey/PA
Olympic rowing champion Katherine Grainger was promoting the boat race. Picture: Sean Dempsey/PA
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OLYMPIC champion Katherine Grainger accepts nothing will ever beat London 2012 – but that does not mean she is thinking about retirement just yet.

The 37-year-old is Britain’s most successful female rower after last year adding gold to the three silver medals she collected in Sydney, Athens and Beijing.

And Grainger is the first female British athlete in any sport to gain medals in four consecutive Olympics. That record could yet be extended by the Glasgow-born rower. She will be 40 when the 2016 Rio Games begin, but she could be tempted to compete, even if she says London 2012 would be impossible to surpass.

“I think everyone that was successful in London is having to face the fact that it won’t probably get better than that,” Grainger said yesterday. “We’ll never see those crowds, certainly not the British crowds, at that level. But you can almost accept that and say ‘that doesn’t mean that it has to be an end point’.

“You can say that is the high point, but there could still be more in other ways. You always set yourself new challenges and, for anyone going on to Rio, it is going to be an incredible Olympic Games. All of them are, they are all special.

“The home Olympics will always be the ultimate, but it’s not like it all stops in 2012. We’re already in 2013 and life has gone. I doubt I’ll ever top 2012, but it doesn’t necessarily make me feel like I have to end it there and then.”

Grainger is definitely keeping her options open over Rio and plans to make a decision once she has completed her PhD in criminology.

“It is certainly a possibility,” she said. “I have not made an official decision whether to retire and leave it there or sign up for Rio for another three years.

“It is a wonderful situation to be in, that they are the choices. There is a great, exciting world out there to try new things.

“Or, if I still have the same hunger, passion, drive and don’t feel I am finished with the sport, then the Rio Olympics is not a bad option either.”

Grainger was speaking in London, where she helped Boat Race title sponsor BNY Mellon launch its “Which Blue Are You?” campaign. The global financial services company is working towards parity in the women’s and men’s Boat Race in 2015, when both will take place on the same day over the same Putney to Mortlake course.

“I think one of the huge benefits of women’s success in 2012 at the Olympics and Paralympics was it showed across so many different sports just how successful British women are,” Grainger said.

“We really are breaking records right, left and centre across a range of sports. There is much more expectation from people to see more of women’s sport, to have it more covered and have it on an equal standing with the men, especially when Olympics sports are concerned.

“There isn’t any real reason they shouldn’t be on equal terms. It is really, really nice seeing that the women’s Boat Race is going to come to the Thames. It will be on the same day, get the same media attention, same spectators and I think it will just help the raise the profile further.”