Grainger admits it is all getting close after her run with Olympic torch
EVEN in the current climate of questionable selection policies it would have taken the keenest of imaginations to concoct a scenario where three-time Olympic silver medallist and nigh-on untouchable world No.1 Katherine Grainger could be overlooked for London 2012.
REALISATION: Katherine Grainger admitted London 2012 was feeling very close indeed after she carried the Olympic torch in Glasgow
But despite her pre-eminence the Scottish rower admits it is a week which included a brush with the Olympic flame - and the much-expected rubber-stamping of her British spot for London 2012 - that has finally brought home the reality of a home Games.
If the sporting Gods - and the Edinburgh University Boat Club - hadn't intervened, Grainger could have been a fellow martial artist such as Aaron Cook, who has found himself in the middle of an almighty selection row in recent weeks.
Despite being ranked the world's best fighter at -80kg Cook, having been overlooked for selection in favour of Lutalo Muhammad, is most likely facing up to a legal battle to secure his Games participation.
In contrast Grainger's progress has been serene - indeed in the last two years, since an comparatively unsuccessful foray into the world of single sculling in 2009, she and double sculls partner Anna Watkins have barely broken sweat in going through successive seasons unbeaten.
That equilibrium was thrown slightly off course in a rare day off the water when Grainger took her turn with the Olympic flame in Glasgow last Friday.
And, while insistent she's exactly where she wants to be with London 2012 just around the corner, the 36-year-old admitted getting up close and personal with the torch brings with it a sense of trepidation.
Rowing redemption - in the shape of Olympic gold at the fourth time of asking - is Grainger's unequivocal London goal and she said: "It was an emotional moment holding the torch.
"Partly because of the chaos getting to hold it and rushing through the traffic to get there but also partly because when you hold it you think, this is it, this is the flame that's going to light the London Games in a few weeks time.
"It definitely brought the Games very close, a lot of the time when you are training you are away from the spotlight and it is in dark sweaty gyms or on windswept and rain-swept waters.
"So in a way you feel quite detached from the experience of an Olympic Games. We hear about it the whole time on the radio and TV and newspapers but when we go training day-to-day you still feel a little bit away from that.
"And then with a combination of the selection and the torch you suddenly realise that, one you're very much a part of this huge, massive ongoing building experience to what will be this greatest show on Earth and tow that we are now counting it in days.
"We have counted in years for a long time and then it was months, weeks and now it is days so it does feel like we are getting to the end now."
The end - London 2012 - for Grainger will be a career-defining moment regardless of the outcome. After three consecutive Games silvers Grainger has been vocal in her win or bust attitude towards the home Olympics.
And in carrying the torch the 36-year-old admitted she had a moment of clarity - realising just how all-encompassing the Olympics has been on her life.
"The flame and the torch is such a symbol of the Games so to actually be holding that means so much to me and my life," she added.
"London is something that I have been building to for seven years and to be honest the last 15 years of my life has been slightly defined by the Olympic Games.
"Last week was massive with both the official selection, although it wasn't a huge surprise, and carrying the torch.
"It wasn't whether or not we had been picked it's that big milestone that we are now officially part of Team GB.
"Although you know it's been coming for a long time it's the first moment when you know it's definitely going to happen and you're definitely going to be a part of it."
Bank of Scotland National School Sport Week took place from 11-15 June 2012 and is Scotland's biggest school sport event with over 1,800 schools and half a million pupils taking part, staging their own Games. Find out more at www.schoolsportweekscotland.org
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