Katherine Grainger Wins the 2017 Thomas Keller Medal

10 July 2017

In a press release (here slightly edited by HTBS), FISA announces that the recipient of the 2017 Thomas Keller Medal is Katherine Grainger of Great Britain.

Rowing’s most prestigious award, the Thomas Keller Medal for an Outstanding Career in Rowing has been awarded to Dame Katherine Grainger of Great Britain.

Grainger is Great Britain’s most accomplished female Olympic rower with five Olympic medals from five consecutive Olympic Games. These medals include gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games and then a comeback after a two year break to win silver at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

During her nearly two decades of international rowing, Grainger demonstrated her adaptability by racing in a range of boats. This included the quadruple sculls, the pair, the double and also the single sculls.

Well known rowing commentator and Olympic gold medallist Martin Cross describes Grainger’s love of rowing, ‘Her passion for the sport knows no bounds. She simply loves to row. You name the boat and Grainger already has a medal in it.’

Grainger started rowing at University of Edinburgh saying she ‘fell into it’ by accident. ‘I loved the people, I loved the environment and I loved the team aspect of it,’ says Grainger. ‘Yes, there were a lot of frustrations, disappointments, the usual blood, sweat and tears, but I still wanted to do it more than anything else in my life.’

On winning the award Grainger says, ‘I’m still a little stuck for words. I think it’s because it feels like a very iconic medal to win and from the very first time I started my career, 20 years ago to now, I’ve seen some of the true global ambassadors, heroes and role models of our sport win that award. It is the ultimate prize in our sport. It’s a reflection of a whole career and I never expect to get it.’ Grainger won the award ahead of this year’s finalists that included Great Britain’s Andrew Triggs-Hodge and para-single sculler Tom Aggar along with American Caryn Davies. The Thomas Keller Medal presentation took place on Saturday, 8 July, during the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland. Grainger received the medal from Dominik Keller, son of the FISA’s former President, the late Thomas Keller.

To view the list of previous Thomas Keller Medal winners, please click here.

About the Thomas Keller Medal
The Thomas Keller Medal is the highest distinction in the sport of rowing. It recognises an exceptional international rowing career as well as exemplary sportsmanship and legendary aspect. The award was named after the late President of FISA, Thomas ‘Thomi’ Keller. Born in 1924, Keller was elected President of FISA in 1958, at the age of 34 and was then the youngest-ever president of an international sports federation.

Following the 1988 Olympics, Thomi Keller spontaneously awarded the FISA Medal of Honour to Peter-Michael Kolbe and Pertti Karppinen to commemorate one of the greatest rivalries in the history of the sport and recognising their exceptional talent and sportsmanship. This shaped the idea of the Thomas Keller Medal which was initiated by the Keller family following Thomi’s passing in 1989. It was first awarded to the great Norwegian oarsman Alf Hansen in 1990. In 2016, the award went to Olympic Champions from New Zealand, Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell.

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