SHE was the nearly girl of British Olympic rowing who became a London 2012 heroine.

Glasgow-born Katherine Grainger finally realised her dream of Olympic gold yesterday and captured the hearts of the nation as she dedicated her win to the people of Britain.

There were tears of joy and relief as the 36-year-old world champion from Bearsden hugged Olympic rowing legend Sir Steve Redgrave after she and her double-sculls partner Anna Watkins stormed to victory at Eton Dorney. Grainger had been the woman Redgrave most wanted to see winning a gold medal

"Oh my God," said Grainger, a member of St Andrew Boat Club in Edinburgh, as she crossed the line a length-and-a-half clear ahead of their Australia rivals.

The rowing star, whose inspiration as a youngster was Ken Davis, her Bearsden Academy art teacher who ran a karate class at lunchtimes, raised her arms to the heavens as victory became hers and she bowed to a packed stand.

The reigning world cham-pions, who came into the Games with a 21-race unbeaten run stretching back to 2010, were roared home by the 35,000 capacity crowd.

The pair, described as a brains trust in a boat, as they are both such high-achievers academically, had set a new Olympic record in qualifying for the final and set a searing pace their rivals simply could not live with.

The scene could not have been further removed from the crushing defeat in Beijing four years ago when Grainger was pipped at the post for gold – for the third successive Olympics.

The Glasgow-born criminologist, who started rowing while she was an undergraduate at Edinburgh University, said: "It was worth the wait. Steve Redgrave promised me there would be tears of joy this time and there are. For both of us we knew we had the goods to perform and it was about delivering. I feel this medal, of all of them, is the people's medal. I feel so many people have been behind me and supported me and wanted this for me as much as I have.

"It's off the back of everyone I've ever worked with, everyone I've ever rowed with, everyone who's helped me, going back to my family who were there from the beginning, to my friends at school, university."

Grainger studied law at Edinburgh, then took a masters degree in medical law from Glasgow and is now studying for a PhD in homicide at King's College London.

She hopes her thesis, which considers why so few murderers serve full life terms, will be published as a book, and said the pair never doubted their capabilities.

"We absolutely knew we had all the goods to perform and we just did it," she said. "It's the satisfaction of a job well done."

However, Watkins said: "It just doesn't seem real. I can't quite believe we've got to this point."

Grainger's parents, Peter and Liz, spoke of their immense pride just moments after the race. Mr Grainger said: "In Beijing we really hoped it would be a gold medal but it wasn't. Until the finish line I wasn't prepared to back them on anything. But Kath has always had something left at the end."

Mrs Grainger said she had "huge, huge pride" for her daughter. "She deserves it so much," she said.

Grainger, whose family moved to Netherley, Aberdeenshire, has previously said she got involved in rowing by accident.

"I took it up aged 18, at Edinburgh University, following the Freshers' Fair. I picked up all the flyers – sailing, scuba, skiing, trampolining – thought I'd try them all. In the first year, I was in the four, we won the universities title, and then I was selected for Scotland at 19."

She has six world titles in different classes, is an OBE, and ambassador for such charities as the Aberlour Child Care Trust.

She nominated her former teacher Mr Davis to carry the London 2012 Olympic Torch part of the way in Glasgow. "He was such an inspirational teacher and the things I learned in karate with him helped me develop hugely as a person – from him having a huge amount of faith in me at a stage when I didn't yet have that in myself, to teaching me about dedication, focus and achieving my goal while still having fun," she said.