Dame Katherine Grainger spent Thursday morning (23 November) visiting the Welsh Rugby Union to discuss coaching methods and to see what can be learnt from different elite sports.
Ahead of Saturday’s international clash against world champions New Zealand, Dame Katherine spent the morning with head coach Warren Gatland before watching the side run through some of their final match preparations.
She was also shown all aspects of Wales’ state-of-the-art training facilities at the Vale Hotel near Cardiff, including the indoor pitches, cryotherapy chambers and their high altitude-conditions training room.
The London 2012 gold medallist even swapped her preferred rowing boat for her running shoes to have a go on the WRU’s anti-gravity running machine, which gives users the sensation of weightlessness in a bid to aid injury recovery.
As Wales team manager Alan Phillips explained, the WRU looks to provide support that gives players every opportunity to reach their potential, or as he put it: “Great facilities demand great performances.”
UK Sport Chair Dame Katherine said of her trip: “It was very special to be allowed behind-the-scenes so close to such a massive international for the country.
“To be able to see how the team were preparing before such an important match and to speak to Warren was a fantastic experience. Warren is a coach I have always respected from afar and it was great to be able to pick his brains and share thoughts on a number of matters.
“The focus on minor details across the board was impressive and there’s plenty to be learnt which can also be useful in Olympic and Paralympic sports."
The five-time Olympic medallist also spent time with players including Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones, 93-cap centre Jamie Roberts and British & Irish Lions hooker Ken Owens, as well coaching, sports science, medical and strength and conditioning staff.
Warren Gatland, who also coached the Lions to a historic series draw against New Zealand earlier this year, added: "It was great to be able to welcome Dame Katherine into our environment and we hope she found her trip worthwhile.
"It's always interesting to share opinions with people from across the sporting spectrum and this provided a unique opportunity to discuss Welsh rugby and more with an Olympic champion."