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Olympic Women - Cook, Grainger, Robertson

Stephanie Cook won Gold at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 for the Modern Pentathlon. Her sport consists of five disciplines – fencing, riding, running, shooting and swimming. Cook was born in Irvine, Ayrshire in 1972. An excellent all-round sportswoman, through school and University Cook tried her hand at a number of sports including hockey and rowing, but running proved to be her strongest sport. Cook did her initial medical training at Cambridge, but it was not until she was doing further study at Oxford University that the prospect of becoming a pentathlete emerged. She saw a poster for the pentathlon club in the porter’s lodge at Lincoln College, and this prompted the start of a highly successful sporting career. Cook embarked on intensive training in all the disciplines, particularly those she was least familiar with - fencing and shooting. She moved from University to international competition in the late 1990s, including World Championships where she won medals in team events. The Sydney Olympics was Cook’s crowning glory – in a nail-biting finish she managed to overtake the leaders Emily de Reil from the USA and British Kate Allenby in the cross-country race; this was the final discipline, Cook’s strongest sport, and it gained her the Gold.

Katherine Grainger, winner of three Silver Olympic medals, was born in 1975 in Glasgow. Grainger started rowing whilst she was studying law at Edinburgh University. Whilst this might be considered a late start in sport for some, she achieved her first rowing success four years later when she won the World Under 23 Championship in the Coxless Pair class. Since the start of her rowing career she has remained at the top of her profession, winning six World Rowing Championship Gold medals, the latest in 2011. She has also competed in GB Rowing Senior Trials, coming first in 2012. Grainger has been willing to change disciplines within her event, competing in different classes including rowing on her own, rowing as one of a pair, rowing in a boat as one of four (quad) and competing as one of eight rowers in a boat. Her Olympic medals have been gained as one of a Quad (2000 and 2008) and a Pair (2004).

Shirley Robertson. Born in Dundee in 1968, Robertson began sailing when she was seven years old. She achieved sailing Gold medals at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and the Athens Olympics in 2004. She was the first British woman to win Gold at two Olympic Games in a row. Robertson won her first Gold in an individual sailing event, and felt once she had achieved this that she had peaked in the sport. Consequently she decided to master a new sailing discipline, and moved her attention to the Yngling – a boat which has a crew of three; Sarah Ayton and Sarah Webb completed the British team that won the Sailing Gold with Robertson in 2004. Robertson has moved on to work as a TV presenter (you may have seen her on CNN’s programme Mainsail and motivational speaker – an inspirational woman whose love of her sport has kept her actively involved in the sailing world.

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