ANNA WATKINS

ANNA'S LATEST

ON THE WATER

Anna Watkins Olympic Champion, won Gold at the London 2012 Games in the double sculls alongside Katherine Grainger.

Anna was introduced to rowing when she studied at the University of Cambridge. She showed a natural talent for the sport and became a competent rower in a number of disciplines including the eight, the coxless fours, and the single and double sculls. She trialled for Team GB's Start Programme and had her first taste of success in 2004 when she made her international debut and won Gold at the U23 World Championships. From there onwards she became an integral member in the women's squad. In 2006 Watkins switched to sculling and began competing in the double scull, a boat class she remained in for the 2008 GB Olympic team in Beijing and in which she bought back a Bronze medal.

In 2010 Anna was selected for the double sculls with Katherine Grainger, a boat that became a formidable force. The pair had an unbeaten season culminating in their Gold medal at the 2010 World Championships in New Zealand, crowning them as the World Champions in their category. Anna and Katherine were also named GB Rowing Team of the Year as well as Sunday Times Sports Team of the Year. At the London 2012 Olympic Games, the pair broke the Olympic record in the semi-final of the double sculls and subsequently went on to win Gold in the final.

OLYMPICS 2012

OFF THE WATER

Away from the water Anna is confident, well-spoken and a multi-talented individual who is completing a PhD in Mathematics. Anna is currently not rowing as she and her husband Oliver had their first Child William in September 2013. Not one to sit idle, Watkins still remains fit and active, although currently not in a boat. In April she will be running the London 2014 Marathon for Macmillan Cancer Support, a charity that is close to her family, and a race that will mark a major aspiration for the Olympic champion.

Watkins will continue to be connected with rowing through the active role she will play at key events for both the Newton Women's Boat Race which takes place on Sunday 30th March, and the BNY Mellon Boat Race on Sunday 6th April. As an ambassador for BNY Mellon, she was integral in helping to secure the Women's Boat Race permanent move from Henley-on-Thames to the Tideway, so that from 2015 the race will be on the same day as 'The Boat Race'.

In the 2012 New Year's Honours List, Anna was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to rowing. Watkins is also Patron for the Women's Sport Trust and an ambassador for Silver Cross. An advocate of women in sport, she uses her own experiences to inspire the next generation of female athletes. Watkins's personable nature and mathematical mind, proved wonders on the water, and these skills she continues to utilise through her public speaking.

PASSIONS

I learned a huge amount from my time rowing so far. I learned that I'm nowhere near what a perfect rower ought to be. I learned that despite this, success at the very highest level was still possible. I found that I had talents that had been hidden all my life. I learned intense self-control, to deal with the pain of a race. Best of all, I found the pure joy of being part of a team that functions beautifully. I gradually worked out how to get myself functioning at my best on demand, and how you might influence those around you to be at their best too.

I'm a scientist by education, and I love how this analytical approach can be so useful for sport. It's my strength, and it has been incredibly powerful, but it's not enough on its own. With Katherine in the crew, we also had passion and intensity. She taught me how to harness my emotional energy to unleash a greater racing performance. Individually, we won silvers and bronzes, but together we were at another level and have never been beaten in our 23 races together.

Post London, I've been spreading what I've learned to businesses and organisations. I find the parallels remarkable between the world of sport and the real world, though sport can always offer up some refreshing perspectives. It's also been hugely important for me to give something back after the massive privilege of competing for TeamGB in London. I take my talks into schools; for me the idea of inspire a generation' is a personal call to arms.

London was called the women's games and I want to do what I can to build the momentum that started in 2012. I'd love to see a day where fitness and strength is truly something that all girls aspire to as much as the boys do, because I believe it's key to a happy life. So I have decided to focus my charity work mainly in this area. I do like a challenge though, and after the Olympics and a baby, this year it's the London Marathon which I am busy training for in aid of Macmillan.

As I'm currently spending a fair amount of time at home with my baby, I'm having the chance to enjoy all things domestic for a while. I have a toe firmly in the world of playgroups and baby swimming, and so a new appreciation of all the talented men and women in the same situation. I'm writing a blog about my experiences as a first time mother, and I'm enjoying the challenge of finding a healthy balance between baby things and my own projects.

Being at home more means I get to be in the kitchen, so I am cooking up treats to fuel my marathon training, see here for my favourites!