Trailblazing rower Katherine Grainger shrugged off any despondency from being pipped for gold and instead chose to revel in her history-making achievements after assuming the status of Britain’s most decorated female Olympian.
The 40-year-old, who won gold at London 2012, has now medalled at five successive Olympic Games as her and Victoria Thornley claimed silver in the double sculls final in Rio.
Grainger and Thornley led for much of the race, only for Polish duo Magdalena Fularczyk-Kozlowska and Natalia Madaj to come strong in the final 500m and take first place by 0.95 seconds.
The result is particularly noteworthy given the history of the partnership. Grainger opted for a two-year sabbatical after London, while the pair’s double sculls project was abandoned midway through the season, only to reform having failed to qualify for the women’s eight.
“I don’t think we could have done any more,” said Grainger. “I don’t think anything could eclipse London because of everything that surrounded it.
“But I remember at the start of the campaign feeling that if I could come out with anything, a medal of any kind, it would probably be my greatest achievement, just because of where it started from.
“There were many, many dark days where I couldn’t see how this could happen. To be standing here, finally, in the Rio sunshine with a big medal around our necks, has made it all worthwhile.”
Kitty Godfree, nee McKane, was a five-time tennis medallist during the 1920s and is the only British athlete to match Grainger’s haul, although the latter has four silvers and a gold, compared to one gold, two silvers and two bronzes.