My Secret Life: Katherine Grainger, 36, Olympic Rower

'I wanted to join the circus'

My parents were ... teachers, both very hard workers and always supportive of my more unconventional plans.

The household I grew up in ... I grew up in Glasgow on this fantastic street – about eight of the houses had kids my age. My strongest memory is just all the kids playing out on long, late summer nights.

When I was a child I wanted to be ... When I was very young I got a telescope – I wanted to go to the moon, which hasn't happened yet. I wanted to be a vet and I wanted to join the circus at one point.

If I could change one thing about myself ... I bought a saxophone when I won my first world championship – I'd love to have time to do it properly.

You wouldn't know it but I am very good at ... remembering people's birthdays, building Lego, and juggling.

You may not know it but I'm no good at ... cooking, 10-pin bowling and karaoke.

I wish I had never worn ... I was young, and it was the Eighties, and I wore a powder-blue jumpsuit with a multicoloured paper bow tie.

What I see when I look in the mirror ... Today, I see a tired athlete battered by the winter weather.

It's not fashionable but I like ... listening to The Archers.

My house is ... very homely. And my garden is immaculate because I have the best neighbours in the world who mow it for me!

My favourite work of art ... Rodin's The Thinker.

My favourite building ... In this country, probably Old College, part of Edinburgh University law school. I remember when I first walked in there before accepting to study law there – it's beautiful, a bit daunting, and inspiring.

A book that changed me ... Probably when I was young it was the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, which started my interest in crime and detective things.

Movie heaven ... I love going to the cinema – I still get excited at that moment when you're about to immerse yourself.

My greatest regret ... Remember that powder blue jumpsuit?

My secret crush ... I would say Zorro, especially if played by Antonio Banderas.

My real-life villain ... On the world stage, Mugabe, and on a more personal level, the person who clamped my car when I went in to pick something up from the shops for one minute.

The person who really makes me laugh ... [Fellow rower] Jess Eddie, who got me through the last training camp – she made me laugh every day.

My life in six words ... If at first you don't succeed...


Katherine Grainger MBE was born in Glasgow in 1975 and studied law at Edinburgh University. In 1997 she won a gold medal in the Under 23 Rowing Championships. At her first Olympics in Sydney in 2000, she won a silver medal, which she also took at Athens and Beijing. Grainger will compete in the 2012 games and has inspired the 'LTS Row' collection for Long Tall Sally, supplier of the GB Rowing Team. She is studying homicide for a PhD at King's College London, and lives in Maidenhead

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