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Anna Watkins (Newnham 2001)

selection icon cambridge blue  Update: Anna Watkins and Katherine Grainger won a Gold medal in the final of the Women's
  double scull in a convincing row to victory. Find out more here.

selection icon cambridge blue  Update: Anna Watkins has been selected for GB's rowing team to row in the Women's Double Scull
  with Katherine Grainger. Find out more on Anna's official athlete profile on the Team GB website.

Anna Watkins (right) and Katherine Grainger  Subject: Natural Sciences
  Sport: Rowing
  Team: GB
  Hoping to qualify for:
Women’s Double Scull

“I am not superstitious at all. The closest thing we have to a mascot is our race boat, which we consider to be the third member of our crew.”

“I first rowed in Michaelmas term 2001 as a novice at NCBC [Newnham College Boat Club]. I arrived at Cambridge already holding the idea that I wanted to row, seeded by various people who mentioned it as a sport that suited tall people. The weather was bad all term, so we had more crew formal halls than outings. It was the perfect introduction because the other rowers became my closest friends.

I made a very definite decision to become serious about rowing in March 2002. I had realised I had a good physiology for the sport, thanks to the persistence of the two NCBC coaches, Tim Granger (King's) and Michael Gifford (Caius). I ignored this for a while, because I didn’t want a change of lifestyle and I was aware there would be an impact on my studies, but I couldn’t ignore the opportunity and eventually I threw myself completely at the task of climbing the mountain from chubby novice to international competitor.

Rowing at Cambridge was a magical time. Bumps is an inspired race format and I miss it. I have no idea how we coped with such a short, narrow, twisty and overcrowded river. I remember ‘ergs’ in the boat bay at 6am and beautiful summer evening paddles at 9pm, complete with angry swans. Later on, when I was training seriously, I did most of it out at Ely, which has its own special memories of a cold and windswept ditch.

This Olympics is already very different from Beijing. The build-up feels like it has been going on forever and there has been a lot of media awareness. There is the sobering knowledge that there will not be a bigger competition than this in our careers, but also an incredible excitement about how lucky we are to be in the position we are in.

At the moment we are on a camp in Italy, doing three demanding sessions each day plus physiotherapy, video reviewing, and planning and technical meetings. This isn't so different from our normal routine, though. I have been training twice or three times a day with roughly one day off per month for seven years now.

The biggest challenge is constant tiredness. If I'm not exhausted all the time I'm not training hard enough, which has a crippling effect on the rest of my life. Coming back from last year's back injury was a big challenge in itself, but I got there. I am looking forward to being in the middle of the race and to those six minutes where I have the power to make it happen.”

The British rowing team is funded by the National Lottery and sponsored by Siemens. Anna is sponsored by Long Tall Sally and Oakley.

Visit Anna's website