Olympic champion Anna Watkins, who became Leander’s first-ever female gold medallist at London 2012, has pulled out of her attempt to make a spectacular come-back in time for the Rio Games.
Anna ‘retired’ from rowing after crossing the line in first place with Katherine Grainger to win gold in the women’s double. But the lure of the sport proved too much, and she returned to rowing last year, determined to relive the goals and sense of purpose she had enjoyed in pursuing her dreams.
But this week came the announcement after a gradual realisation that Rio was a step too far.
“I realised what a gulf I had to make up – I was fit enough on the ergometer but race sharpness was another matter. What I needed was not just another training session, but maybe another year or so” she said.
A brief look around, to see how she might add something to another crew, confirmed her fears and she withdrew from the team.
“I’d had some tension in my mind for a number of weeks, first after December trials, and again after our training camp in Majorca, but the balance has now shifted, between the personal cost of following the programme, and the eventual outcome” she said.
With the decision comes a calmness and a finality which she didn’t have after London. “We’ve done the experiment, and I’ve done everything I could, to see how far I could get – I’ve no regrets” she said.
“I’ve been part of a team, I enjoyed finding my limits again, and it’s nice to find peace of mind. That’s why I know it’s the right decision” she added.