Kirsty Young's castaway is the Olympian and rower, Dame Katherine Grainger. A six-time rowing World Champion across a variety of classes, her silver medal at Rio in 2016 made her the most successful female British Olympic athlete ever, having won medals in five consecutive games. Born in Glasgow in 1975, her parents were teachers. At school she earned a black belt in karate, and it wasn't until she went to Edinburgh University that her passion for rowing was truly ignited. Winning silver medals at the Sydney, Athens and Beijing Olympics, Katherine finally ceased to be the sport's eternal bridesmaid when, with her partner Anna Watkins, she won gold in the Double Sculls at the 2012 London Olympics. After two years away from the sport, Katherine returned in 2014, to win her fourth silver and fifth overall Olympic medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics with her new partner, Vicky Thornley. Alongside her sporting achievements, she gained an Honours degree in Law from Edinburgh, a Masters in Medical Law from Glasgow University and was awarded a PhD in Homicide Sentencing from King's College London in 2013. She was made the fourth Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University in 2015 and became a Dame in the 2017 New Year Honours. Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is the bbc halloo on Kirsty young. Thank you for downloading this podcast of of desert island discs from BBC radio for for rights reasons the music choices of shorter than in the radio broadcasts for more information about the programme. Please visit bbc dotcom dont uk slash radio. For why castaway this week is the roma dane Catherine granger? She is the most successful british olympic female athlete ever having one metals in five consecutive games, but long time they were only silva's. I see only because I have the
she's the sort of person for whom that's not quite satisfied enough. It was on it they stretch of buckinghamshire water in twenty twelve that she finally one olympic gold in six minutes and fifty five seconds of lung busting sinew straining effort and get this in parallel with her record breaking sporting achievements. Is completed a low degree, a masters and a phd. She says whatever the results of the challenge? It's worth being out there in the dust and the dirt? It's worth. The battle the scars and the possible heartbreak and, of course, it's worth having dreams because you never know when and how they might come. True. So welcome catherine m. What is it about being they're in the dust in the dirt to use your words that makes you feel truly alive? Ah there's something about the challenge. I do love at its heart and it's it's not everyone and it doesn't get easier and its you're trying to find perfection in sport,
the time and it is a constant battle against the elements against your own mental strength against you know trying to create something with partners and other people and its it's never the same. I love it as well as those olympic metals. You have one six world championship goals. How would you describe your feelings about coming. Second, I'm not a great loser. I have to met a man and a silver is losing well, it didn't to be, to be honest, my first, my first olympics was a silver, and that was the you know the the the I was in a a crew with three other girls. It's four of us. It was the first ever olympic medal for wounds, rowing and a history of brewing, so it was incredible that that was an achiever. That was success on it. We and it can have showed where I got mentally, where our sport got to over those next for eight years that silver turned into. From my viewpoint, failure and you're partnership, of course, and twenty two of us with Anna watkins to win the gold in london,
How did you world change after that? It changed certainly externally, massively I said we had formed see come to this dream, the olympics, the ultimate in export. We would achieve what we ve been aiming for and it's an incredible driving force in your life to be chasing something like olympic success that you are away or you know, you're, not saving lives me not doing anything that really could have impact, meaning, that's always been important for me and my life, and I think the wonderful thing after london was actually the response from the public, and I got incredible letters and emails and messages from complete stranger, saying that it had changed your lives and they'd been inspired, and you know some people got over depression, some people, we know people who'd very personal, meaningful stories that actually watching me and anna sitting in a boat going backwards. I actually did have a positive impact in, and it reassured me that, maybe it's not just a selfish pasta. Let's go then
it's in granger to the the lists. Tell me about your first disc today. What are we going to hear we're going to hear from the legend that is tina turner? I took my mum along to tina turner's last concert in the uk fifty years in the business, and she rocked the stage, there's something about her performance, it's triumphant and defiant and just joyful and she was strutting around those incredible heels and short skirt and huge hair. I'm asked all the time but role models in my life and I thought here's a woman, nearly seventy having had the life she's had and she can do as if she's in her twenties and I've gone for pride may, because my hardest training camp I do is when a cycling camp we go for hours and hours and hours on the bike to the girls, Jes and Beth, and I used to seeing this and the roman rolling along the votes at times not kept us going.
the bottom line by, but was too turner and proud meeting inches in casablanca because he said you play that when you're on these terrible cycling training camps, you ve said of their training. It is long, untiring and relentlessly repetitive. You ve got a very sharp brain apart listening to the music and dry, giving your physical self. What's going on in your head when you're training, others makes who sometimes need dashed very sharp mine to be very aware of what you doing ruling is one moving.
Over and over and over again. So actually, you can break down to train tiny bit of movement and you try and make all those things perfect, which is hard after but an hour and a half or two years to the same thing and another days you want the technique right, but a lot of its more but the fiscal training an enduring side so actually is a little bit like driving. You could almost make it happen. very naturally in your mind, can wonder what does wonder to what do you think of genuinely? Sometimes it's implausible what you need to go and get to the shops and other times, and I do my phd. I was trying to put together what my next chapter might be other when you complete in single skulls you you are always ruling with at least one other person. You must almost become one organism when you rightly in the waters is, is that fit and what is that sensation? Because it is not something that most of us really will never experience now, and I think I can things a huge privilege in its task. Is some partnerships or or crews forward, very natural, very easy
and it's brilliant. It's one, the most intense relationship to experience. You can have lived he pockets you are actually relied on each other and you need to be absent. You we don't choose who we are with us, like any relation to be worked on them, dandy out and can of honesty and trust and loyalty is at the heart of anything Let's have some were music. Casting going to tell me about your second one right. The olympic games is just twenty four seven assault on your senses. He knows light sound as noise, it's wonderful, but in a way out, when I come back from I need to, I need candy talks, some higher and for me, since two thousand and four onwards, revealing picks I've gone out to africa and for me I go and safari, and I switch off. I go into this massive africans, guys I sit by watching hole and watch parts of elephant toward low income drinker, whatever it might happen, and I just get perspective back. I just get reminded that you know sport. Isn't everything I feel at peace that com. I really need that, so this is part.
but I mean the that bad bad! I thought that was million the kiva uncluttered us catherine grinned. You you originally from Glasgow. You ve done sex for a very long time, though I wonder what scotland means to scotland still home my moment as to the up north in edinburgh arisen, gloves, who first seventeen years until about university,
I'm surprised about my lover. I think it's made me and get a thing, my roots. They are made me what I put on an did. My life, you mention human lives. She had two doses in quick succession. Eighteen months between you and your sister, and at the same time as you were young and she was bring yacht- was your father. She was working as, A teacher- and you have said that during that time she never seen stressed is it cannot possibly be shiver, seem strange to vague that I miss you might try very different story, which is built on he used to a massive increase, my life, she adored being a teacher she's. The one schools quickly star school, So I knew some of their peoples it. She tore up, was beaten by as many months teacher, but genuine ever net spoke about her just loved her classes short very hard at home and take work whom, but because she loved- and I think without being aware of ip upon, if you find something that you love and your passion about new doors as a job as a living man, actually you can even joy working at and it's not a hardship in that way.
and tell me what you're dead he began in teaching, but will outside of work? What's your father was a he's brilliant ear? He was the only man in our quite small family, so he was very much outnumbered by the girls he's quite than my sister my moment I and he was very outdoors eat. You stick to clean them and rose nearby was got walkin locks in the mean when others are high. How old were you when you were taken up them and while I was young, I dunno ten twelve, we saw there in climbing properly and it was never seen as a big deal she knows lovely lovely timed got my dad and be it in the fresh air. Where do you think you're uncommon, DR began I honestly don't know. I mean I've asked my mom and dad they think of his kind of born with it. I think I've always been competitive. You weren't the same age as europe exists but you were only a kick in the shot off it. You know eighty months as is pretty close decent. Were you looking at her unthinkingly? She can. I will ya, I think there was. I am night, my big sister stare she's, the most wonderful person she was very.
Impressive herself, we're on a year apart in schools is so everything she went to. I can. I went to the same time until it is wonderful mix of being competitive and massey wanting to beat me at things but She's got this unbelievable serve carrying nurturing site. So if I was gaps accepting beaten, my big sister, something she would Jemmy, then pull back a bit and catholic after me. Where's I could just be an Only competitive with the younger sister, and until I go better than I that was written in frustrating for her, but yeah very me and that's how you build champion, tell me about your third then, what what are we going to hear next right? We're changing it slightly, so this one is actually for my sister, Sarah and my dad as well growing up. We always had music around that my dad loved musicals and in the car we would have evita and Joseph and his technicolor dreamcoat Jesus Christ, superstar and we'd play over and over and over again in the car and my sister and I were in the back seat fighting over the different rules.
We took different roles when he sang it both cut badly and I've gone for one day, more les miserable I just loved the story and also going back to training camp a little bit with brewing. Then there are many days we just felt one day, one day, another day, another death moving to tell these men who seem to know my crime will show their com a second time, one when we are one day.
It was the original london cost recording of the misery. They were singing one day more, composed by claude Michel, Schoenberg, with linux, by herbert credits. My at your maternal grandmother, Catherine granger, isabel. She. She was very important in your life. Your grandfather, her husband, was a policeman. Is it true? I hope It's true that she they lived in us have police how's that sells attached would do whom baking and golden push it through the cell, today meets yeah, micron grandad, the innovative numbered in knelt and growing up in our school holidays in summer. That's where we go to a good appetite image go swimming in the north sea, and maybe that's that's where the toughness comes from my grandad, had been the place. You know his whole life in my dream, she's back all the time and long before my time she got told off when I gotta, because she had been caught napping through into the jail cells and these poor people were locked up. We owe our shame and giving the the criminals for want of a better word her, who makes
all the olympians who one golden twenty twelve in their whom cities and towns were given golden post boxes? Are they were when given them, but they were put up in their own use fusion. We was put up in aberdeen and actually you're from Glasgow for a long long time momentarily lived just had set up a breeding so that had been written down. Some where's, my hometown, so an up to see it and it was the most emotional thing because- the embryos to me an unbeknownst to them. They had painted the post box that sat directly outside the voluntary shop that micron had worked for twenty years of her life and for years. Mrs Thyssen serves terrifying encounters with these fabulous collection of two mind. Elderly women who ran the shop and I loved and which is part of my childhood, growing up my grandma soviet, possibly by this point, but I can feel that for her sits there for her, you gonna put
possibly in two thousand and five. You must have been in training at the time the world championships in japan. She was very dear to you. How much time did you get to spend with her when she was ill? Not enough? Both my grand grunted passed me that year and I think that's what am I bit frustrations? It's you know I just can go back. I went back a few times, but I couldn't, and courts turned their eyes of sea was there for the funeral and left m serve that night. train camp. We often hear especially gold medal moments with breathless moments. Elites. Sportsmen and women say that have been so many sacrifices. I want to thank my family and so on and so on. I wonder, can you explain to me why that sacrifice? It is worth it. I have a thing right. I don't like talking to sacrifice sacrifices to grant a word for it a choice. No one made me no and forced me into It- was actually might my life choice and I too regret any of it. Of miss weddings, admit birth, decent, missed, funerals have missed spanked him.
When my family, especially when you feel you know it's important to be with them and that's hard snort great. But you look back, you go. That's the thing that I would change. If I could, but I know my farm you ve been so supportive made it a totally understood every step You know when I stood the podium. It was awful, not vote share it with my grandparents at that point, but I also lived in an apartment hopes they were. They were part of that mentality, some where music, Katherine granger. It's time. For your fourth said it is actually for my mom, I my aunt. My aunt got married and moved away to the states to for years. We got to this amazing trip to the usa, and one year we got to go to grassland. I was only twelve, so I think I didn't really get Elvis before that and then going through gates and seeing the jungle ruminating his cars and hearing the stories from people who had been there. I have got, but it was I've gone for. If I can dream and its because I m a dreamer and I am an optimist. I think, especially
now I think there are there's so much in the world that is concerning and worrying and frightening. I think there is hope we listen to this where, where Randy Elvis, if I can dream of you, have said catherine granger- that sports as a teenager and at this time it was karate helped you learn so much about yourself. What did you come
to understand as a teenage, but yourself, why wasn't I introspective- or you know, searching and our age at an very, very happy Did I didn't have anything serve acts like to do is, but I think also was a teenager. You don't really know what your people or what you might do or why so in with karate I I went for white bautzen and really serve struggle to make it to the grating belts and then, but by the time left school. I become a black belt and I just didn't know that was reports. One on my my teacher, the time again Davis whose, after the art teacher took it, you get paid far from four more things, but he also remind me how important was to enjoy. Why did it wasn't about trying to cheat the next thing all the time he believe I could and thereby finished? He gave me his original black belt he'd gotten decades before, and it was a big big things made about her. hypatia how inspiring emotional sport can be a black belt. Could you still Could you take me out if you travel up, I'm still proficient if you're sitting, I kid I'm not as flexible as a
to be better. Now I am, I could be dangerous. I am mostly sitting dynamic, like to have more of a sort of picture of you ass. A teenager and school clearly you had this, creates a physical ability and this drive, but icicles can be tribal. What tribal you and we just in the sporty toy. Now when I was ninety hours sporty at school by I'd, never thought that would be my feature. I was good it school. I really enjoyed it I wasn't gonna singing. I wasn't aloud in the choir when I was at primary school and that scarred me ever since, but I loved the art side of things and I actually thought when I went to university that maybe I would I thought, won't stay low, so I thought I'd go to university and become a lawyer and potty work in theater or musical theater cause on her. Last years before I went to universe edward to the kings, theatre by machines, a clumsy, jane and glasgow unthinking. I dont want to be out there my face on stage, but I loved you and that in the darkness the scene change moments when you run on in
and you change the scene, and you can just sent the audience how they are neither amazing moment of life. It you think cod, as is the connection to the people I loved it more music, causing greater tell me about the next one, we're on your face, This is why back in school still so I grew up. We know clauses in the eighties Yes, and it was time of indelicate judy, in blue and white light weight in the proclaimed chosen a vacant chair? a simple mines in hue and cry, and always amazing bans and the fire alarm as you know, was infamous at that point, and it was for. I was legally, let's go drink if you get into their clubs, it was this most exley. one thing I think I saw you: they're probably did first than we ever met, but of all the best and I think the one I could pricing every word of every song to was texas, and I saw them so many termed life and are chosen halo, unassuming those opening bar start and backing,
ask in the eighties and unhappy also the Yes, that was too and halo. Tell me casting granger what age were you when you rode competitively for the first time didn't start ruling properly to avenge university. So seventeen when I went to and be nursed eight and then ruin can have found me and I can beat. It is a novice in my first year, the first two years. My room career were not illustrious, I have to say
but then my surgeon had learned to do it properly. I vote for scotland and and into my fourth year I go into the british team. It's worth reminding people that Britain's success in world rowing really began with you. It was in milan and ninety. Ninety seven at the under twenty three world championships, you took a gold there. You were the first ever at british women rules team at an international event. To do that once you a testament was better, I mean I mean well twenty years old, I can't we deny is addictive. How did it change a relationship with yourself I'll get a huge, my confidence, confidence. I did the idea in some ways you probably did. I just want to see a good. I could be at it, but I was incredibly turkey with the timing, because they ve been loads event credible woman had gone before me in this bore big names, but just haven't had the big metals and
the national lottery funding came in and ninety ninety seven the same year I started and because I was successful in the first year I was funded from that point and I stood on the shoulders of so many giants and from the past to unfair She never got the chance. I got one of those other female world sporting greets bleaching. King was once asked about the difference between involvement and commitment, and she said it's it's like hammond eggs. chicken is involved, but the pigs committed, and I'm wondering you know that there are lots of people at a certain level who do well, and then there are people like you, was there a point at which you decided this is all and nothing else matters. There was a point when I back an address issued in and it was still early on my career funny, I could become internet.
But I was going for the senior team. The university and I was actually commit- has good enough to senior team and I went to the meeting and they had sixty names. Who'd made the tea when they read out in order. I remember hearing the first group and within that my thoughts quite disappointed. Thought must be second group, I didn't like that and they always done and make any the top sixteen. And then I thought well what happens by unease believe picture a fifth group before her started, I mean they called a bit roomy deal group who just gonna come and have fun, and that was me and I d, I was in edinburgh stormed the meeting. I could have common of shame and rage and disappointment and frustration walked up arthur seat. I can agree with his heels melodramatic there and I just. I was just in tears. I remember thinking I will never myself unimpeded. And again where I got it all wrong, and I promised myself,
they are, and then I would never again overestimate my abilities or my expertise or you know. How could I thought, why am I I I Jemmy came down arthur, see a little bit changed. It did humble me and, and gave me humility in in all the right way, and I didn't have ever lost that there s my career. So let's call that the red room the bull moment, shelly, let's have some more music, katherine granger em, we're on your six. What's this, while I'm still in edinburgh and I'm learning about rowing and and learning about life, and this song just takes me back to you, know those those nights and the clubs me university and I never is that your arms, my errand, singing the words as if they really know what life is like, and you have no idea that point what what life is like, what you sing it as if you know- and this is the watch voice on the whole,
that was the whole of the moon by the most replies. Catherine granger, two thousand and six was one of your many important ears. He would belatedly awarded the world championship gold medal for the good roupell skulls it only half after the russian crew would disqualified won t member been taking. I think, testosterone at the time.
How did you feel too have been essentially cheated out of that triumphant moment of winning? owes desperately sad and the big thing for us soon two dozen five. We won the world championships, so we were defending the rural title. Doesn't six was was at dorani leg, you know it. from a lot of my friends and family had been able to travel and watch and We were raining champions and we were favorites, and this is the moment effluent come to see as winning the world title on our whom grand the russians with big opposition. The final we were leading and it was quite battle towards the end and they just pull the head of the finnish and beat us, and there was this hush fell in the crowd on my godsons. Was there any to face painting jack and had come to cheer and he was too young to really know what lose meant, but he was aware at the people who cried were so upset. He started crying and I spoke to have served tiny little face if in a union, jack was streaks running through it. years. Did you smell a rat? No,
The time noakes. I think. That's not your first thought in first thought was not over, they must have cheated to have been, ass. It was that what should we do wrong? We must have it. We weren't you often that that's hard to deal with current to a dark patch of the winter of of the four of us and, above all, trying to say where we dwell on shore and why weren't good enough and why we failed and why we had disappointed fellow, we disappointed every one and it took part five months for the news to come out of it was opposed to test and that they will get restrict their medals and it was the chess it just the strangers. because you suddenly someone just tell you the corner, Virginia ordinarily champions nobody got. The moment, no one who travelled or page or in the outskirts cs known, got through the national anthem is also incredible anger that suddenly this russian team had brought peace, car sport Disrepute and ruin that moment you just don't get it back. We got the metal back, but it doesnt replacing fails one of the other
common things about. You is that you have had this academic achievement running in parallel with your ruling career. You phd is in homicide sentencing. What is that interested I is it gloves university in theory dissertation I did that was unlike path and then my pc looked into when people commit what we consider this site is the worst crime for end of murder. People get sentenced for the rest, their lives and to me I ain't gonna changes everything about humanity and challenges, not just behaviour of the parties committed a crime, but the response of the public. Everything from into play with the judges in the sensing, especially topos, with the media reporting of it. the public's reaction is often stirred up by external forces and about why we punishing the way we do and if there is no such things redemption in those worst case knows it was just fascinating making it wipe you'll do things they do whether the crime itself, with response to crime
interested in extremes, strike hit tiny, so apparent effect, but bless yo, unique species. It tell me about this than I moved down from scotland in ninety ninety nine and I had to live at the time. We base was in more loads just along the river from hamley on terms, and I'm going to henley net was the first summit You know when it had been there a get on it, but it was packed apps patent and then run the coroner. This huge. So black hurt him on the corner of these two black courses with the big plumes out, and then the hearse, true alongside it, the site in flowers had dusty, and I had by accident stumbled into. Does he springfield funeral and there was to impute go into the church in the picture funeral across gathered- and I am- I heard a lot going out my mommy player and eager back and he had a voice. Nothing there was no one who did it like dusty and this one is a nice good girl. Parson called you don't owe me you down
just one- you down, you don't and go. You just springfield you catherine, ranging in everything that I have read and find out about you before today. I I can't find anything about your personal life. Tell tale, ah pricks, I don't have a very successful one feminist kirsty. I suppose my I really. I've really have devoted myself and probably every way to my sport last week.
tears and I've had a purse lifelong alongside occasionally but not very successfully. So maybe that's the next year. I can even tuna real Of course you you got a silver famously in rio. That was the last olympics and, as you say, tat two years of your life. You have dedicated to the sport and I am wondering and not a little bit worried that ending your career on us over at an olympic games. Just would seem like enough. Legally silver in rio was was, without a doubt, the hardest of my five in the battles to win. Neither it I yet obsolete. As part of me, that is a little bit dissatisfied cause we almost pull off the ultimate coup of you know what she winning the title, as it does irritate me a little bit, but I can live with, and so what's next, oh that's not these aggression! Yes, I've exe
After that, I won't go back and do anymore in a boat. Thoughts with fat comes liberation and comes excitement, and I feel like I'm sixteen again when I dont know what to do in my life. But I want to do something and I'm excited and nervous and slay daunted and terrified at the same time as being in just looking forward to I just I do know the answers yet now you have to be a tough cookie to endure and to reach the level that you have in sports desire, and this has been going on for seventy five years as we cast you away to the island. Are you somebody who you think you know you're pretty self reliant you copy on your manage? I very self reliant on call kickball and, I think I'll be fine I'll enjoy. But if peace and quiet for a little while- and I will- I think, I'll- cope with the the physical challenge
on an island by which you will be dead within hours of malnutrition, come an awful coup. Can I wouldn't go without saying things never in whose listing who know me will be laughing and with understanding at that point, that's your final peace, catherine greater. What is it well clearly fur for the de limpets has my life, and I want to do something that somehow encapsulated all the olympics and the sun was pleaded. The closing ceremonies, twenty twelve, which was my most amazing moment and its one day
for every single alone, pick memory that you have, that encapsulates them all cast one that was elbow and one day like this. The moment has come. Then I'm gonna send you to this island. Before you go, I'm gonna give you the books, you get the bible and the complete works, a shakespeare and you can Another book along. What's your enemy, I am going to take a book of quotations. I get tease relentlessly, I'd live by courts, have arguments inspirational users, motivational used was talking points and it would just give me thoughts for as long as those on the island of company with people on their amazing words and the luxury to what's who's gonna be right. This luxury is good. Jenny, even even now, even off my island. I find this a luxury I would love to take. If it's possible the sunday papers, you are competitive. What's women and you don't want to cheat and I'm not gonna, let you cheat so I'm not gonna give you the current sunday people living around you kind of something that keeps you in touch with the current world. Ok, you can take than an archive of sunday
members of your lifetime? Gonna? Let you do that, but I can't let you take an indefinite might of sunday papers and certainly not ones that our current and into the future, so I can go backwards and forwards. Yes, it's what you shine, just finished rowing and I spent my life rowing looking backwards and I promised myself it only look forward. So this is difficult, but I will take the archive with with your blessing am, I will catch up and all the news I never read in the last forty years. Ok, that's and by me, and which one this? Could you save This is, I think, I've change will have sat here actually to office with me, ah downcast granger? Thank you very much for letting us here, your desert, island, diskin of loved it.
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Transcript generated on 2022-06-12.