First mates! Grainger and Watkins hope close friendship can help them triumph
21:58 GMT, 25 July 2012
Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins
teamed up more than two years ago as rowers in GB's double sculls boat
and have been unbeaten since, winning at the World Championships for
the past two seasons.
They are arguably the rowing team's firmest hope of a gold medal, and among the strongest contenders in any sport for GB.
Theirs would be a first rowing gold
for British women, which they are hoping to claim next Friday. Outside
the boat Watkins, 29, originally from Leek, Staffordshire, is married
while Aberdonian Grainger, 36, is single. But until the Olympics finish
they are the most significant partner in each other's life . . .
Making a splash: Watkins (left) and Grainger relax in Henley
Grainger: I suppose we are a bit like a married couple . . .
Watkins: Yes, one that's been together for 20 years! Actually there are a lot of similarities and at the moment I see more of Katherine than I do of my husband. We are working towards a common goal, we need each other and it's in our interests to look after each other's physical and mental wellbeing.
Grainger: The good thing is we aren't just in this because we need to be but because we want to be. I think you could do this if you weren't close in a personal sense, but I do think it's a stronger partnership because we get on well.
Watkins: Katherine is the first person I turn to if I am having a hard time with something. She knows me the best of anyone in the rowing squad and I know she wants the best for me.
Grainger: The nature of what we do is that there are a lot of ups and downs, with things like injuries, selections or things happening away from the boat. It's nice that I've got the experience which means others will come and see me for a chat, although I don't know if I'm always much help!
Golden girls: Watkins and Grainger
Watkins: When I joined the team Katherine was already the top person, already a world champion and I was in a four for the GB Under 23s while she was preparing for Athens (in 2004). /07/25/article-2178973-0D345A8C000005DC-930_468x327.jpg” width=”468″ height=”327″ alt=”Golden girls: Watkins and Grainger” class=”blkBorder” />
Watkins: We've never got as far as a fallout, have we We've had good days, and bad days when we've said what do we need to fix Is it one of us or both of us And then there's Paul (Thompson, the coach). If there's a problem one corner of the triangle will sort it out.
Grainger: Technically we make a good team because we are a similar height, similar build, we have a similar length of stroke and we have a similar power output – we are both at the top end of the team on the physical side. Once you've got all those things matched up then the boat should go well, but there's an X-factor that makes a boat go really fast.
Watkins: From the start we've had this understanding of the mental side and technical side. I can shout something in the middle of the race that might sound really vague like 'feel the hull' and Katherine will know what I mean, even if nobody else would.
Grainger: We've done two World Championships and six World Cups together and woken up in the same room every time, so we know a bit of what to expect when we wake up on the morning of the Olympic final. Of course there will be massive nerves and adrenaline, but there's something really comforting about knowing the person that you are about to go out and tackle this thing with, you know you aren't facing the world alone. At that point it will feel like the two of us against the world. We won't need to say anything, it will just be a look at each other.
Watkins: It's more of a knowing look, the eye contact. We will both see it in each other's eyes, there won't be the need to discuss how we're feeling.