Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Gran inspired me, says Olympic champion

AN Olympic champion has told how her grandmother inspired her to support charities, writes Isaac Leigh.

AN Olympic champion has told how her grandmother inspired her to support charities, writes Isaac Leigh.

Katherine Grainger was speaking to about 60 staff at Invesco Perpetual in Henley as an ambassador for the Sue Ryder women of achievement awards, which the company sponsors.

The 37-year-old Scot won a gold medal in the double sculls with Anna Watkins at London 2012 and then picked up the sportswoman of the year prize at last year’s achievement awards.

Grainger showed the medal to the audience and told them she was delighted to be involved with Sue Ryder having cycled past the charity’s hospice in Nettlebed while training.

She said: “I was very lucky to receive the women of achievement award last year and since then I’ve become more involved with the charity, which is incredible. It makes more of an impact with people when there are links with the community, like there is with Invesco Perpetual. It’s a great thing when they are on the doorstep here and it’s a lovely cause for people to raise money for. The staff at Invesco should be proud of the links they have.”

Grainger paid tribute to her grandmother, who volunteered in a charity shop in Aberdeen for more 30 years, saying it inspired her.

She also reminisced about her journey to Olympic glory last summer following three previous Games where she won silver. She said that winning silver in the quadruple sculls at the Beijing Games in 2008 was the lowest point of her career and took her months to get over.

A clip of her triumph at Dorney Lake was shown to the audience and Grainger bowed her head and appeared to be close to tears.

Since London, 2012, she has taken the year off rowing to complete a PhD in law and she said that she was strongly considering retiring before the Rio Olympics in 2016 when she will be 40.

Mark Armour, chief executive of Invesco Perpetual, said: “Katherine is a fabulous role model. Stories like hers are inspirational and she has also put her time and effort into supporting Sue Ryder. She’s deliberately giving something back to the community and that’s what we’re looking for our staff to do as well.”

Moira Logie, regional fund-raiser for Sue Ryder, said: “She had the audience in the palm of her hands. She’s a warm human being, which is relevant to Sue Ryder. Her humanity comes through, which is what we’re about.”

The seventh annual women of achievement awards will be presented at the Millennium Madejski Hotel in Reading on October 17. They are also sponsored by Higgs Group, publishers of the Henley Standard, Charlton House and Reading 107.

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