Katherine Grainger's mother forgot 43-year wedding anniversary because of Olympic Games


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The Independent Online

The mother of an Olympic rower has said she forgot about her 43-year wedding anniversary because she was so caught up in watching the Games.

Liz Grainger, whose daughter, Katherine, was today bidding for gold with Anna Watkins in the women’s double skulls, had to think twice when friends sent her congratulatory texts - a day before the final.

“I was away at the rowing and people kept sending me messages about our anniversary. I had to think twice - I’d forgotten about it!”

Mrs Grainger, who has been married to Peter for 43 years, said watching Katherine in her fourth Olympics was less nerve-wracking than she thought it would be - but admitted there has been “huge pressure” on her daughter.

“It hasn’t been so nerve-wracking. I’m not quite sure why. The first Olympics, there was no expectation. It was just a joyous experience. Sydney was just great - nobody was expecting anything.

“The next two were definitely more nerve-wracking, there was more pressure.”

Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins have already set a new Olympic record at these Games, knocking nearly five seconds off their previous best in qualifying.

Grainger, 36, is the most decorated female athlete in British rowing history but described herself as “the bridesmaid” after winning three successive silver medals in Athens, Sydney and Beijing.

She is no plucky loser, however – she’s been world champion five times.

Her mum added: “There’s more pressure on her. People talk about three times silver and so on, there’s really huge pressure, she’s coping incredibly well.

“I just spoke to her and she’s remarkably calm. She’s just longing to go out there and race.”

When her daughter’s competition is out of the way, Mrs Grainger, from Aberdeenshire, will be like any other Olympic fan lucky enough to have tickets.

“I’m going to the synchronised swimming on Sunday. I applied for lots and lots of things and got none of the ones I wanted. I’ve got tickets for Greco-Roman wrestling - I don’t even know what that is! But never mind, it’s a great thing for the country and very exciting.”

She said the family would be “in bits” watching Katherine’s bid for gold.

“We’re just totally proud at what she’s achieved. She’s such a lovely person and she’s totally focused on rowing.”

On whether this could be her daughter’s last Olympics, Mrs Grainger says simply “she refuses to look past the final”.

But if she does call it a day, one career Katherine probably won’t be starting is as a chef.

In 2008 Katherine appeared in the BBC Two cooking show Chinese Food Made Easy, in which she was taught how to cook a healthy version of sweet and sour pork.

“It was very nice. But it’s one of the few dishes she can do. She doesn’t have much time for cooking.”