Martin Cross |

2016 Olympic women’s doubles final: ‘We were that close to pulling off the biggest coup in Olympic history’

In the last article of our iconic Olympic finals’ series, Martin Cross revisits the amazing women’s doubles sculls showdown at the 2016 Rio Games where Katherine Grainger and Vicky Thornley put in a stunning performance on the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas

They were the two top female athletes in the British Olympic rowing team. Yet back in that 2015/2016 season it seemed that nothing had gone right for Katherine and Vicky. At the Europeans, their double was too slow, so they ended that project and asked if they could be seat-raced for places in the British eight. After what was a controversial series of trials the two women were told they hadn’t made the eight. Both were at an emotional low. With just over a couple of months to go to the Rio Olympics, it looked like their dreams might be shattered.


Fast-forward to August 2016 with 500m left to go. Improbably, Grainger and Thornley had led their Olympic doubles final through every mark. They were now locked into an epic ‘bow-ball to bow-ball’ battle for the gold medal with the double from Poland. The outcome of that contest was in doubt until deep into the last 500m. In the end the Poles prevailed by 0.9 seconds.


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