Grainger backs Stanning to cope with weight of London 2012 expectancy
KATHERINE Grainger is well averse to the pressures of Olympic fever - and the Scottish rower has urged compatriot Heather Stanning to take it in her stride ahead of London 2012.
EXPECTATION: Katherine Grainger admits Heather Stanning and Helen Glover will have to deal with the pressure of London 2012
With three Olympic silver medals to her name Grainger's unbeaten last two years alongside Anna Watkins in the double scull leave her an overwhelming favourite to banish her painful Games memories with 2012 gold.
In comparison to the battle-hardened and worldly wise Grainger, Stanning is a fresh face - not yet tainted by the pain of any Olympic disappointment.
Indeed after bouncing back from two consecutive World Championship silver medals with a pair of World Cup victories in 2012 Stanning - and women's pair partner Helen Glover - have been backed to begin their Olympic campaign in the finest style of all, by claiming gold.
Grainger knows only too well what goes through a favourites mind in Olympic year having headed into 2004 and 2008 as a reigning world champion.
And she believes, if Stanning rejoices in the lofty expectations on her and Glover, she could deliver on her considerable potential in London.
"To be fair Heather and Helen have shown their quality at the World Championships taking a very close silver last year and silver also the year before in their first real international experience," she said.
"So I think all of us in the team have been hugely impressed by the way they have just arrived on the world stage and blown it away.
"They have always had the potential to be the frontrunners in their event. This is the first time this year that we have seen them ahead of the other favourites.
"Once you become a favourite then you have a target on your back and everyone knows you are the ones to beat which makes it difficult.
"But it's a pretty great position to be in at the same time because it means at the moment you are the fastest person in the world, so yes it's known you are the ones to beat, but it is a very strong position to be in.
"And I think that is how they need to see it; they need to see it as that is their strength. People will look at them to lead and they should embrace that."
And, while the pressure will be on Stanning to be one half of a gold-medal winning combination, Grainger admits the Lossiemouth rower is lucky in that it won't be all eyes solely on her in London.
Stanning's boat is just one of a host of gold-medal contenders including Grainger herself and she added: "The nice thing is they haven't had Olympic experience before so they go into it with real excitement and enthusiasm.
"And the good thing for them is that they are surrounded by an experienced team so they can get a lot of help and advice along the way.
"There is a lot of reassurance that it is not the only boat we are focused on so there won't be this horrible, crippling pressure on how they are going to do, they are going to be one of a lot of successful boats so they should really enjoy that."
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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