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Page last updated at 12:32 GMT, Tuesday, 30 June 2009 13:32 UK

Grainger set for new Henley role

Katherine Grainger
Grainger is competing in the single scull this season

Triple Olympic silver medallist Katherine Grainger will be the youngest and one of the newest stewards at this year's Henley Royal Regatta.

Grainger, only the third rower to be elected while still competing, told BBC Berkshire it was a shock to be asked.

"When I first got told, I thought it was a joke because I thought I'm the wrong sex," she said.

"I also thought I'm about 30 years too young - but then it became real when they gave me my steward's badge."

Grainger confessed she was not sure what being a steward at the prestigious event required.

"I thought I'd be wearing a nice badge and a nice blazer and that would be me done, but actually you have to work!

There's all that to play for so just go out there and try to put in your best performance. And enjoy it, because it should be something you always remember.

Katherine Grainger

"You're aware of stewards when you're racing at the Regatta, but you don't really know the background to it.

"They run the Regatta, which I hadn't really appreciated. They're the people who do the start, the finish, the timings, they umpire the races, they make sure boats have the right numbers and the right people in the boat - basically all the hands-on jobs."

Grainger added that the Regatta had always been an important event to her as a rower.

"Ever since I started rowing, up at Edinburgh University, everybody knew about Henley.

"The crowds are sensational - they're within feet of the end of your blade as you come down the course.

"I've been to Olympic Games, and the crowds there aren't the same - you don't get 2,000 metres full of people at the Olympics. It's an incredible experience for an athlete."

And her advice to this year's competitors is simple: enjoy the experience.

"The racing is fierce - it's one-on-one, so somebody will be knocked out. Anything can happen, upsets happen so never give in because you never know what's going to happen during a race.

"There's all that to play for so just go out there and try to put in your best performance. And enjoy it, because it should be something you always remember."

Henley Royal Regatta begins on Wednesday 1 July.



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