James Lawton: My pleasure and privilege, Katherine Grainger
You may say it is wretchedly self-serving, and you may be right, but there is still a compulsion to reproduce here a fragment of the beautifully written autobiography rower Katherine Grainger produced beside a Scottish loch after her superb Olympic gold medal triumph last year.
On page 238 of Dreams Do Come True (André Deutsch, £20) she writes: “As 2011 came to an end I read about Kauto Star, the champion racehorse. James Lawton in The Independent had written an article entitled, ‘Vintage Kauto Star gets better with age and makes everyone feel young again’. Lawton wrote, ‘There are all kinds of champions, human and equine, who claim a piece of the nation’s affection, but some of them offer a special gift. It is the idea that you are never done, that you can grow strong at those places which have been broken and, in the opinion of some, irreparably.’ It struck a nerve. And so I continued through the winter with the knowledge that it was about enjoying the racing again, focusing on the performance and never feeling I was ‘done’.”
She wasn’t, of course, no more than Kauto Star, and reminding a great athlete – and a fine writer – was much more a privilege than a chore.
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