British rower Imogen Grant shuts out Olympic fears

·3-min read
Britain's Imogen Grant (right) and Emily Craig take part in a training camp in Portugal

British rower Imogen Grant says she is ignoring the swirling uncertainty over the Tokyo Olympics, describing the atmosphere within the camp as "electric" two months from the start of the Games.

Grant won silver in the lightweight women's double sculls with partner Emily Craig as Britain topped the medals table at the European Rowing Championships in Italy in April.

The pair went one better at last week's World Rowing Cup event in the Swiss city of Lucerne, taking gold.

"I think we're improving each time we race and we've done a really good job making the most of the opportunities for racing this year, given that there weren't that many of them," said the University of Cambridge medical student.

"To come away with a gold medal in the last race before the final period of training before the Olympic Games, you can't really ask for better."

British rowers have been short of races over the past year due to the coronavirus pandemic but Grant said it was reassuring that their competitors were in the same situation ahead of the delayed event in Japan.

"More racing would probably be better but I think actually the racing that we have had has been really high quality so I've not worried in a sense that I think we've made the most of all the opportunities that we've had," she said.

- Games threat? -

Grant, 25, said she was not dwelling on the situation in Japan, where the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, an official Olympics sponsor, this week added its voice to calls for the Games to be cancelled.

Several parts of Japan are under states of emergency over a surge in Covid-19 infections, and the public is largely opposed to holding the Games as scheduled.

"To be honest I'm not paying much attention to it," she said. "I've got better things to do focusing on my training. There are so many people putting so much effort into organising the Games.

"It's not going to be like a normal Games but we've known that for a long time now and I think given that a lot of sporting events are already happening, I'm confident that it will go ahead and go ahead in a successful manner."

Britain has been top dog in rowing at the past three Olympics, though in Tokyo they will be without their long-serving chief coach Jurgen Grobler, who stepped down last year.

But Grant described the energy following the European championships as "electric" after uncertainty over how the team would perform.

"I think the extra year has actually added a huge amount of strength to our entire squad," she said.

"And actually seeing the success of all of the boats, it really breeds a type of energy within the entire squad that gives everyone some motivation."

She admitted she relished the increased expectations that came with Britain's success on the water.

"It is a big pressure and the Olympic Games are a really big thing and I know that rowing has a really strong pedigree, especially post-2012 and watching the success there in a home Games and then the subsequent success at Rio.

"I want to live up to that and I really want to continue that as the squad that we're in today."

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