Katherine Grainger Keynote Speaker

  • Britain’s most successful female rower and first female British athlete – in any sport – to gain medals in five consecutive Olympic Games
  • Chair of UK Sport, and elected to the British Olympic Association's Athlete Commission
  • London 2012 Olympics Gold medalist and four time Olympic Silver medalist (2000, 2004, 2008, 2016)

Katherine Grainger's Biography

Dame Katherine Grainger DBE is a British rower, 2012 Olympic Gold medallist and Chair of UK Sport. She is an excellent speaker on topics such as teamwork, overcoming challenges, motivation, winning and the importance of communication. 

At the London Olympics 2012, Katherine and Anna Watkins won the gold medal at double sculls after breaking the Olympic record at the semi-final. Her Olympic achievements make her the first female British athlete – in any sport – to gain medals in five consecutive Olympic Games.

She is also a four-time Olympic Silver medalist. Katherine first won Silver at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 in the woman’s quadruple sculls and won Silver again when she took part in the coxless pairs with Cath Bishop. She returned to the quadruple sculls in Beijing 2008 when she won her third Silver, narrowly losing to China after taking the lead for some of the race, and took Silver again in Rio in 2026, in the double sculls with Victoria Thornley. Katherine has also won eight medals at World Championships, between 1997 and 2011.

Katherine is also one of the few Olympians combining a successful career in sports with academic studies. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University, a MPhil in Medical Law and Ethics from Glasgow University, and a PhD in Law from King’s College London. She has remarked “Without planning it both my Olympic career and my PhD have met at the same time and the culmination for both is 2012 – not by design.” Whilst finishing off her PhD, Katherine also authored her autobiography, titled “Dreams Do Come True” (Andre Deutsch, 2013).

She has co-presented BBC coverage of events such as the Rowing World Cup and the BBC Inspire series, and was a pundit during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Katherine has made appearances on TV shows including Superstars, A Question of Sport, Countdown, The Clare Balding Show.

She was awarded a CBE in 2013, was named Scottish Sportsperson of the Year and awarded the “Emirates Lonsdale Trophy” by Commonwealth Games Scotland in 2009. Whilst at University, she was awarded with the Eva Bailey Trophy twice, as their most outstanding female athlete, in 1996 and 1997.

Katherine has been appointed as the Chair of UK Sport for a term of four years, she was elected to the British Olympic Association’s Athlete Commission and became a board member of charity International Inspiration.   More recently Katherine was appointed a Champion of the Glasgow 2018 Youth Olympic Games.  She is a keen advocate for young people and women in sports.

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