Team GB celebrated one of its greatest Olympic results in history this year, and on home turf to boot, winning no less than 65 medals in total and ranking an incredible third in the world, just behind USA and China.
Some of the talented Team GB athletes born, raised or living in Gloucestershire proudly brought an array of medals back to the county – with a few post boxes painted gold in their honour and some faces even immortalised on limited edition postage stamps.
Nailsworth-raised Pete Reed and Cheltenham-born Alex Gregory did their towns proud in the men’s coxless four, rowing all the way to gold with team mates Tom James and Andrew Triggs-Hodge with an impressive time of 6:03.97.
Post boxes in Nailsworth and one on Cheltenham High Street have been painted gold to commemorate their victory, and the duo also feature on a limited edition postage stamp, giving locals the chance to get their hands on a piece of sporting memorabilia to treasure.
Tetbury’s cycling hero Ed Clancy stormed to gold in the men’s team pursuit final with teammates Steven Burke, Peter Kennaugh and Geraint Thomas, in 3:51.659 minutes, but sadly, as Clancy was born in Huddersfield, Tetbury lost out on a golden post box this time.
The team dressage grand prix special saw Newent-based Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin, along with Cirencester’s Laura Bechtolsheimer win Team GB’s first ever gold medal in the event, with a score of 80.550 – one that will not be forgotten by the nation, or the county, in a hurry.
Dujardin then went on to clinch another gold in the individual grand prix freestyle event, scoring 90.089 points and earning her a golden post box in her hometown of Newent, along with a limited edition gold medal stamp too.
Nobody can forget the dramatic men’s lightweight double skulls that saw Tewkesbury lad Zac Purchase's seat break within the first 100m.
When the race re-started, Zac and teammate Mark Hunter took an early lead, but were sadly pipped to the post right at the end by Denmark, bringing home a silver medal with a time of 6:37.78, much to the disappointment of the local athlete.
And Stroud-based Zara Phillips became the first British royal to ever win an Olympic medal, when she took silver in the five-strong eventing team, proudly accepted her medal from her mother, the Princess Royal – adding the icing to the cake for the Team GB equestrian team.
Just two days after his gold medal victory in the men’s team pursuit, cycling champion Ed Clancy then went on to claim bronze in the men’s inaugural omnium event with a time of 1:00.981, giving Tetbury all the more reason to celebrate.
Cheltenham-based hockey player Ashleigh Ball played well in the women’s bronze medal final, beating New Zealand 3-1 and coming home victorious with a weighty medal around her neck.
And after her gold medal win with the dressage dream team, Cirencester’s Laura Bechtolsheimer then went on to win bronze in the individual grand prix freestyle with another impressive score of 84.339.
Gloucester-raised rower Beth Rodford did her county and local rowing club proud in the women’s quadruple sculls final, coming out in sixth place with a time of 6:51.54, while two-time Olympian Natasha Page, from Hartpury, also just missed out on a medal in the women’s eight final, finishing in fifth place with a time of 6:18.77.
All eyes were on golden girl Jess Ennis in this year’s heptathlon, but Gloucester-born and bred Vicky Holland put up a hell of a fight in the triathlon, coming out in 26th place with a respectable time of 2:02:55.00.
And last but by no means least, fencer Louise Bond-Williams, who was born in Chipping Campden missed out on a medal, as did Cheltenham’s Rob Parker, who battled bravely with the men’s water polo team.
Congratulations to all the local athletes who took part in this year’s unforgettable Olympic Games, and don’t forget to get behind Cheltenham’s Melissa Nicholls in the upcoming Paralympic Games, when she makes her wheelchair race debut for Team GB in the 100m and 200m on Friday 31 August 2012 and Thursday 6 September 2012 respectively.
By Shelly Elcock
Wednesday 22 August 2012
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