The independent voice of rowing in Britain

Golden girls turn 21 but promise more (W2x final Munich)

Posted by rowingvoice on June 21, 2012

The question preoccupying the GB press corps after each women’s doubles race this season has been “are Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins hiding a gear?”  The oarswomen claim not, but they have been “breaking things down and trying different things, which probably means we’ve not been racing at our fastest,” said Grainger.  Sunday at Munich saw the duo win their 21st race in a row, with Grainger breathless but “not too tired to stand” for interviews after beating Australia’s Kim Crow and Brooke Pratley by a few inches more than clear water.  This time, the technique was steady and controlled, the synchronicity starting to show between the two, a glimpse of what Watkins described “the crew we can be.”

The Australians and perennial medallists Poland were the main competition in Munich after Germany changed its doubles about to stick their top two scullers, Britta Oppelt and Annekatrin Thiele, into the quad, and the Chinese and Czechs decided not to play.  GBR went for the ‘lead all the way’ option again, but showed a bit of bite and accelerated away, making the most of Australia’s race-rustiness, when Crow and Pratley’s efforts at 1400m threatened to increase the overlap.  “We wanted more than a length”, said Watkins, but remarked about the Aussies that, “They’ve only had three weeks together, they’ll undoubtedly be faster by the Games.”  The margin over Poland has increased from five to ten seconds, a good sign for the Brits, and New Zealand’s spare double beat their first crew for fourth.

“The idea was to finish the whole 2012 season unbeaten coming into the Games,” said Grainger, pleased that they had achieved it.  “But we’re also very conscious it doesn’t mean anything for the Olympics.”  Chief coach Paul Thompson has been loud in his praise for senior rowers Grainger and Mark Hunter, whom he cites as dedicated and focused, able to produce PBs at the ages of 36 and 33 respectively, while younger rowers get distracted by Facebook, Twitter and incessant media/sponsor requests.

By the looks of it, 29-year-old Watkins is picking up plenty of good habits from her crewmate.  But the last word has to go to the expert.  “The exciting thing is we won’t see our true speed until the Games,” says Grainger.  “That’s been the plan throughout the year, to peak in August and not before.”  This from an oarswoman who rarely fails to deliver on her promises, and whose partnership with Watkins has been unbeaten over 25 months.

Rachel Quarrell

Gold Great Britain, silver Australia, bronze Poland; NZL2, NZL1, UKR.


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