Olympics: We have every chance of success, says rower Watkins
SUCH has been the rise of Anna Watkins in the last two years it seems only the curse of Katherine Grainger can come between her and an Olympic gold medal.
A long-time double scull rower – winning Olympic bronze in 2008 – Watkins's career didn't truly lift off until she linked up with Scottish rower Grainger for the 2010 season.
The duo have not lost a competitive race since, with a pair of World Championship titles and World Cup victories aplenty making them overwhelming favourites for London gold this summer.
However the caveat to their serene progress perversely comes in the shape of partner Grainger, who recently carried the Olympic Flame in recognition of her commitment to the sport.
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The Olympic favourite tag is new to Watkins, but the Scot has a back catalogue of Games heartbreak which will surely weigh heavy.
Grainger has arrived at the last two Olympics as a reigning world champion and come up short, settling for silver both times.
And with another silver medal to her name from Sydney in 2000, the London Olympic fairytale could prove to be a nervy affair for Longsdon rower Watkins.
However after seeing her Olympic dream take a further step towards reality when she was handed her GB kit in Loughborough yesterday, a resolute Watkins insisted their chances of winning gold are excellent.
"In Beijing, the team got so close to getting that first gold medal for women's rowing and there's no doubt that it's going to happen in London," said Watkins.
"There are a lot of different crews that can do it, and you can't help but be inspired by each other and by the success potential that's coming out in the whole women's team.
"The women arrive in the team and expect to be successful and expecting to be at the top level, not just being part of a team.
"Of course we'd like to be the first, but it's very much down to programmes – you don't get to choose.
"I'm not going to wish bad on my team-mates.
"We're the third day of finals so realistically no, but for both of us, it's our medal, it's our event that race on that day will more important, irrespective of what's happening all around us."
For Watkins the trip to Loughborough was as close as the GB rowing squad will come to frolics as the Games preparation reaches fever pitch.
The squad will head from Loughborough to a notoriously backbreaking training camps in the Swiss Alps.
Watkins added: "It's been pretty good fun. We've been through all different kinds of outfits, we've been treated like celebrities. They made a real fuss of us.
"But by the morning when our coach gets his teeth firmly back into us, our feet are firmly on the ground.
"What we've got coming up is four to five weeks of massively intensive work. We can afford to be beaten back down, exhausted, pushed to the edge and still recover in time for the Games."
As the only National Presenting Partner of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay, Lloyds TSB is bringing the excitement of the Games and Olympic Flame closer to you. Find out what we're doing in your community and who is carrying the Flame at lloydstsb.com/olympictorchrelay