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Rower Imogen Grant reveals Olympic preparations

Grant and double sculls partner Craig could not feel more equipped to tackle the Vaires-sur-Marne Nautical Stadium in the summer

Craig and Grant could become the first British duo to claim an Olympic women’s lightweight double sculls medal since 2012.
Craig and Grant could become the first British duo to claim an Olympic women’s lightweight double sculls medal since 2012. (IMAGO/Eibner, Reuters Connect via Beat Media Group subscription)

By Abi Curran, Sportsbeat

Imogen Grant has a medical degree from the University of Cambridge but insists it is a top-class education in keeping her sport clean that is serving her best in an Olympic year.

The reigning world and European champion arrived late to rowing in 2014 but by the following year was training for The Boat Race with her university team.

After being crowned World Rowing’s Women’s Crew of the Year alongside lightweight double sculls partner Emily Craig, the 27-year-old wants to promote anti-doping to future generations and celebrate the human endeavour of competing as part of the Protect Your Sport campaign.

“I've been aware of clean sport ever since my second year of rowing,” she said. “It was something that was really emphasised, partly because The Boat Race is under quite a lot of scrutiny.

“It was stressed how much we had to make sure that we were checking the medications we were taking on Global DRO and our supplements on Informed Sport.

“It was very much a reminder to us that if one of us made a mistake and someone slipped up, that would have some pretty dire consequences for the club.

“I've been very lucky because my education and introduction into learning all of that was really top class and I always felt like I had really good support from my coaches, both at Cambridge and then within the GB system as well.”

Grant and Craig have remained unbeaten since the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and the duo feel proud to reap the rewards of pushing their bodies to the physical extreme.

UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) promote regular workshops and initiatives, such as the Protect Your Sport campaign, which encourages people to come forward and share their concerns around potential doping in sport.

Grant shared advice to fellow athletes who may want to raise suspicions of doping within their sport.

“It's always been emphasised to us that even if you're not certain, just saying something and reporting it via Protect Your Sport on the UKAD website is the right approach,” she said.

“It’s important that the information you have can go to a person who can do something about it.

“I think it's really empowering to be honest, because it means as an athlete, you've got control over how clean your sport is – you can play your part.

“Ultimately, the joy of sport is in human endeavour and seeing how fast, how high, how strong we can be.

“Protecting the sport so that future generations and future athletes can enjoy that same thing is crucial.”

After missing out on a bronze medal in Tokyo by just 0.01 seconds, Grant and Craig could not feel more equipped to tackle the Vaires-sur-Marne Nautical Stadium in the summer.

Expectation is mounting on the shoulders of the pair but with the backing of British Rowing and the confidence in UKAD, the duo feel they are on track for a mammoth gold medal win.

They could become the first British duo to claim an Olympic women’s lightweight double sculls medal since Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hosking at London 2012.

“Winning a gold in Paris is obviously in the back of our minds,” she added. “It's what we want, it's what we're here for.

“I feel like we are so much better equipped to deal with the racing and perform the way that we want to perform now compared to where we were in Tokyo.

“We know so much more, we have so much more experience. It's really special to feel like me and Emily are always on the same page, we know what we're working towards.”

Protecting clean sport depends on everyone in sport playing their part to maintain a level playing field. If you have any suspicions that something’s not right, no matter how small, search Protect Your Sport or email pys@reportingdoping.com