10 Apr

Olympic Heroes Start London Marathon

Tom Daley

Three of Britain’s 2012 Olympic heroes will be on the start line at the 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday 13 April.  Rowers Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins will push the famous red button at the ‘blue start’ on Shooters Hill to send some 36,000 runners and wheelchair racers on their way in the Virgin Money London Marathon, while diver Tom Daley will start the Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon, a three-mile race for young athletes aged 11-17.

Grainger and Watkins, who together won the women’s double sculls gold at the London 2012 Games, are both running in this year's event, Grainger for International Inspiration, a charity set up after London 2012 to use sport to tackle social problems, and Watkins for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Grainger shares, with swimmer Rebecca Adlington, the distinction of being Britain’s most decorated female Olympian. Before her celebrated London gold, Grainger won three silver medals at the Olympic Games in Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, making her the only British sportswoman to win medals at four consecutive Games. She is also a six-times world champion.

After finishing her PhD in law last May, and writing her autobiography, Dreams Can Come True, Grainger now faces what she calls “the scary challenge” of running 26.2 miles. She said: “Having the opportunity to take part in the 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon on behalf of International Inspiration is a privilege in itself, but having been asked to start the race on its behalf is an honour.

“I can’t wait to feel the energy of a ‘home crowd’ again as I take part in one of the most iconic marathons in the world.”

Watkins, who has two Olympic and four world rowing medals to her name, gave birth to her first child, William, last September. She currently fits in coaching and motivational speaking, studying for a PhD in mathematics, and a little bit of rowing, around her childcare duties and marathon training.

She said: “I’m truly honoured and so excited to be asked to start the Virgin Money London Marathon this year. I’m running as part of Team Macmillan to help ensure that no one faces cancer alone so I can’t wait to pull on my green vest and do my bit.”

Britain’s future champions will be on show in the Mini London Marathon, a series of races over the last three miles of the course involving more than 2,000 of the country’s best young runners and wheelchair racers.

Daley, still a teenager himself, will set them on their way from Old Billingsgate. The 19-year-old won a bronze medal in the individual 10m platform event at London 2012 having won the world title in 2009 and two medals for England at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. He now presents ITV’s celebrity diving show, Splash!

“I’m really excited to be starting the Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon on Sunday morning as part of my role as an adidas ambassador,” said Daley. “It’s great to see so many young people taking part in the race. It’s a great event to be a part of, and, who knows, maybe there’s a future Olympic champion in the field.”