STILL buzzing from her career-defining rowing gold medal, Katherine Grainger praised the public’s support during a visit to Games sponsor EDF energy in Worthing.
With the priceless memories of having finally secured the ultimate sporting accolade at London 2012 after three previous Olympic silvers, she met dozens of employees at the firm’s base in Southdownview Road.
Speaking exclusively to the Herald, she recalled the moment she took gold with partner Anna Watkins, in the double skulls category at Eton Dorney.
“I don’t think it has sunk in even yet,” said Katherine, who believed the efforts forged over three years with her team mate have now been fully rewarded: “Anna and I knew we had an awful lot of support from family and the public, but we were just focusing on the result that day. The reaction from everyone was great, which I’ve felt coming down to EDF to meet people here.
“It’s quite a feeling to know that you can have an impact on people and hopefully inspire them to do some sports. I thought it might have been a relief to have won gold, but it was in fact just an immense joy.”
The 36 year-old Glasgow born athlete revealed her journey began “by accident” at Edinburgh University, where she realised her talent through its rowing club.
While a potential life as an academic now beckons with an extension to her PHD studies in law almost complete, it seems she’ll never lose her love of being on the water. Having put in many unglamorous hours early morning training in, she felt a genuine sense of pride at claiming her honours.
Katherine added: “If you can win at your home games then it’s the ultimate experience. I was just soaking up the atmosphere I’d had the three silvers before, so I knew what I was getting myself in to. It was a hard race, but I am actually glad it was, as you enjoy it more because of that.”
Unfortunately, she will not have the chance to add a Commonwealth Games title in 2014 on her home city in Glasgow, as rowing is not part of the event.
But whenever she does eventually decide to call time on her career, she can do so looking back as Britain’s most successful female rower ever.
“It was the most amazing experience,” revealed Nicola Haynes of her highly memorable two weeks as a volunteer Games Maker at London 2012.
The 47 year old, from Worthing, represented EDF at Earls Court for the volleyball, which she described as an unforgettable time.
She said: “I am proud to have been a part of it after being selected by the company to be a Games Maker and I came away with the sense that London and the entire country had embraced the spirit of the Olympics.”
Fellow employee Carole Cannon, 48, from Worthing, was fortunate enough to be a volunteer in the main stadium during “Super Saturday” for Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis’s amazing gold performances.
She said: “I was on the other side of the track from the finish when Jess Ennis was doing her final event and the noise from the crowd raised the roof as she went around the track. For the other events, the crowds just decided they were going to get behind all competitors- there was just a phenomenal atmosphere. It was hard work at the Games doing eight or nine hour shifts, but it was fabulous.”