Great Britain’s canoe slalom gold medallist Joe Clarke got back in a kayak for the first time since Rio – for his victory parade.
The 23-year-old was able to let some of his home-town crowd take the strain as he was carried along by hand this time, rather than the choppy white waters of Brazil.
As tradition dictates he was hoisted aloft in his kayak by canoeing colleagues along part of the route in Stone where he grew up in Staffordshire on Monday, as about 2,500 well-wishers cheered the Team GB hero on.
For Clarke it marked a victorious return to Stafford and Stone Canoe Club in Westbridge Park, where he first cut his teeth in a kayak on the River Trent.
He told the crowd that he had had a bit greasy food and a few beers following his victory but would soon be back in the gym ready to defend his title in Tokyo in four years time.
Clarke, who said he was overwhelmed by the turnout, said: I’m going again and I won’t let it go again easily so, as a reigning Olympic champion, I’m going to go out there and try and repeat my success.
He added: I don’t like losing so when I get back into training I want to be top dog again.
His nan Betty Clarke watched as her grandson was carried around the park, cheered by flag-waving revellers.
The 75-year-old revealed she had once tried her hand with a canoe and an oar as a Girl Guiding leader.
She said: I did canoe once.
I was a Guides leader and we went to the swimming baths in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and did the capsize drill.
That was enough for me.
She added: I am so proud of him.
Following Clarke’s triumph on the water where he took gold by 0.17 seconds, the club’s members painted its letter box and flag pole gold to honour his victory.
The kayaker and former Scout only got a place in the club aged 11 after beating 60 other applicants for one of the few available slots, before breaking into the Great Britain junior team in 2009.
The council held a civic reception for the town’s hero, who now trains in Nottingham, before a parade along the High Street and into West Bridge Park.
News Source MirrorNews