Page last updated at 14:48 GMT, Wednesday, 27 August 2008 15:48 UK

Local heroes: Mapping GB's gold medallists

By John Hand
BBC News

Each time a British athlete climbs to the top of the podium in Beijing, the proudest fans are those who can acclaim them as a home town hero, having followed their journey to Olympic success since childhood.

Click on our map to discover the local links for the Olympic champions - and send us your own stories about how your home town has played a part in any of the gold medal successes.

Chris HoyAndy HodgeEd ClancyPaul GoodisonRebecca AdlingtonPendletonJamie StaffRebecca RomeroJason KennyTom JamesPaul ManningGeraint ThomasNicole CookeAndrew SimpsonSarah Ayton and Sarah WebbBen Ainslie and Pippa WilsonIain PercyZac PurchaseSteve WilliamsPeter ReedBradley WigginsMark HunterChristine OhuruoguEnter alt textBrabantsJames DeGale

WICK, GLAMORGAN: Nicole Cooke, cycling - road race

Nicole Cooke

Cooke was born in Swansea and is now based largely in Switzerland, but she grew up in the village of Wick.

After every major win, she maintains a tradition of visiting the village pub, the Lamb and Flag, to show regulars her medal.

"It has put the village on the map in the best possible way." Phil Thomas, Wick

"My local Olympic hero is Nicole Cooke - gold medal cyclist from near my home-town here in Wales." John Jones, Wales

MANSFIELD: Rebecca Adlington, swimming - 400m freestyle swimming and 800m freestyle

Rebecca Adlington

Double gold medallist Adlington was born and bred in Mansfield.

Its mayor, Tony Eggington, said after the Games he would buy her a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes as a reward for winning Olympic gold.

He also confirmed plans for an open-top bus tour, victory parade and party to welcome home the local heroine.

And the town's Sherwood Baths could be renamed the Rebecca Adlington Swimming Centre when it reopens in September next year, subject to approval from councillors. The pool is where Adlington had her first swimming lessons.

"Rebecca Adlington is our golden girl. She has done us proud with two gold medals. Bravo Beccy, good luck for the future."Alison, Notts

"With Rebecca Adlington in Mansfield and the British water sports team largely based at Holme Pierrepoint in Nottingham and most of the rest of Team GB a few miles down the road at Loughborough it might be easier to say who my local Olympic hero isn't!" Peter Sym, Nottingham

"I'm from Mansfield and it does stick in my throat a little that we are spending money on victory parades, rebranding and renaming of a run-down local pool and buying pairs of shoes for Rebecca Adlington, when we have a severe shortage of ambulances in our area and are having to wait 20 minutes for an emergency ambulance to be drafted in from another part of the county. Surely donating an ambulance in her name would be money better spent?" Emma Derner, Nottinghamshire

EDINBURGH: Chris Hoy, cycling - men's team sprint, men's sprint and men's keirin

Chris Hoy

Scotland's most successful Olympian Chris Hoy is a native of capital city Edinburgh and his first bike was a BMX bought in a jumble sale in the city.

He said he could not have reached the Olympics without perfecting his skills at Meadowbank Stadium.

And Glasgow has announced that the new National Velodrome being built for the 2014 Commonwealth Games will be named in his honour.

He now lives in Salford, Greater Manchester, enabling him to practice with his British team-mates at the city's velodrome.

"Not only because he has won three golds at one games. Remember here's a gold medalist from Athens who was told - sorry your event is axed. So what does he do? Finds another event, two in fact, and becomes the best in the world at them too! And such a down to earth guy too. And a role model and leader for the rest of the cyclists especially the youngsters." Nicky, Edinburgh

"Chris Hoy is just fantastic. What an advert for Scotland and Team GB. He has been an inspiration, but what a team. They have done a fantastic job for our country - Britain - as a whole and shown what can be done when hard work, determination and investment come together." Adrian Fife, Dunfermline

"For me, Chris Hoy stands out, not because of his heritage, but because he unashamedly showed his emotions and what it meant for him to win. May he continue to be an ambassador for sportsmanship in the world." Iain Mair, Stirling

"Team GB did us all proud and gave us something to smile about. As a very proud Scot I do not agree with Alex Salmond and Sean Connery that we should have our own Olympic team. Well done to Chris Hoy for being so diplomatic in his answer. We are a proud nation of Scots, but many of us are also very, very proud to be British." J Campbell, Scotland

"My local Olympic hero is Chris Hoy. Four gold medals in total, three this time round, the most successful Scot and most successful Brit for 100 years." Andy, Aberdeen

BRABOURNE LEES, KENT: Jamie Staff, cycling - men's team sprint

Jamie Staff

As a child, Staff used to ride his BMX around his home village of Brabourne Lees, near Ashford, Kent.

He went on to win the BMX world championships and moved to the US to ride professionally. But in 2002, he switched to track cycling.

He now lives in Stockport.

BOLTON: Jason Kenny - men's team sprint cycling

Jason Kenny

Jason Kenny has become Bolton's first Olympic gold medallist just four years after boxer Amir Khan became a local hero by punching his way to silver in Athens.

But it was Britain's cycling success in Sydney in 2000 that first attracted Kenny, then aged 12, to the sport.

Fortunately, the Manchester Velodrome is less than 30 minutes drive from his family home and his talent was quickly spotted there and developed. And, unlike his British team-mates, he has not had to move home to take advantage of its world-class facilities.

"Everyone wants to get on a bike in the velodrome where the Olympics stars trained." Manchester Velodrome general manager Jarl Walsh

COEDPOETH, WREXHAM: Tom James, rowing - men's four

Tom James

Although he was born in Cardiff, the rower who won the second Welsh gold medal in Beijing regards his home as the village of Coedpoeth, near Wrexham.

He first started rowing while a pupil at King's School in Chester.

He went on to row four times in the Boat Race while studying engineering at Cambridge University. In his final year as president of the university rowing club, he took the team to practise at King's School - and his first Boat Race victory followed.

CHELTENHAM, GLOUCESTERSHIRE: Steve Williams, rowing - men's four

Steve Williams

Williams, a surviving member of the previous gold medal-winning quartet in Athens, was born in Leamington Spa, Warks.

But he grew up in Cheltenham, where his father was a vicar at St Mark's Church.

Williams learned to row at Monkton Combe School in Bath, and studied at Oxford Brookes University, with whom he won the World University Rowing Championship.

He now lives in Henley-on-Thames, in Oxfordshire.

NAILSWORTH, GLOUCESTERSHIRE: Peter Reed, rowing - men's four

Peter Reed

Reed was born in the US city of Seattle but grew up in Nailsworth, where his mother Sue was mayor.

He is a rarity among Britain's elite rowers in that he attended a comprehensive school - Cirencester Deer Park School, in Cirencester, Glos. He started rowing while at university in Bristol.

The naval officer is now based close to the River Thames in Chiswick, west London.

HEBDEN, NORTH YORKSHIRE: Andy Hodge, rowing - men's four

Andy Hodge

Hodge was born in Aylesbury but grew up in Hebden and calls the Yorkshire Dales village his home.

He went to school in nearby Skipton and took up rowing when he went to university in Staffordshire, because he wanted to improve his fitness and participate in a sport that was "more serious than rugby".

After a move to London, he joined a rowing club and went on to gain selection for the men's eight crew for the Olympics in Athens.

He then took a postgraduate degree at Oxford and competed in the 2005 Boat Race. He now lives in Chiswick, west London.

"We're happy to claim him as a true Yorkshire hero, definitely" Neil Stacey, deputy sports editor, Bradford Telegraph and Argus

ASHFORD, SURREY: Sarah Ayton and Sarah Webb, sailing - yngling

Sarah Ayton and Sarah Webb

Two of the three "blondes in a boat" who won yngling gold were born in Ashford, Middlesex.

Ayton began sailing aged six, when a family friend took her to Queen Mary Sailing Club in Staines.

She now lives in Weymouth, Dorset, close to where sailing events will take place for the 2012 Olympics.

Webb now lives in Weybridge, Surrey.

LYMINGTON, HAMPSHIRE: Pippa Wilson, sailing - yngling and Ben Ainslie, sailing - finn

Pippa Wilson

The third of Britain's "blondes in a boat" shares a home town with the man hailed as Britain's greatest Olympian sailor.

Wilson was born in Southampton but began sailing at the age of five at Salterns Sailing Club, in Lymington. She now lives in Lymington.

She had an offer to attend Bristol University but instead joined Sarah Ayton and Sarah Webb to train for the Olympics.

Ben Ainslie

Ainslie has long lived in Lymington, is a member of the local yacht club, studied at Peter Symons College in nearby Winchester and his strong associations with the town have led Lymington mayor Cllr Martina Humber to call for him to be knighted.

But he was actually born in Macclesfield in 1977, attended primary school there and there are calls from local councillors for him to be given the freedom of the Cheshire town.

He also spent part of his childhood in Restronguet, Cornwall, and took part in his first sailing competition there aged 10. He also attended Truro School.

"Living near Southampton, my local Olympic heroes would have to be the sailors of course: Ben Ainslie, Pippa Wilson and Iain Percy. Ainslie with three golds over 12 years is fantastic. As much as I have loved watching our GB team getting medals, it has been an amazing two weeks watching all the events. They all trained hard and deserve our praise. Well done to the whole team. And good luck for 2012." Mark S, Southampton

TEWKESBURY, GLOUCESTERSHIRE: Zac Purchase, rowing - lightweight men's double sculls

Zac Purchase

Purchase was born in Cheltenham, but grew up near Tewkesbury and swam for the town's swimming club as a boy.

He attended King's School in Worcester but was too young for its rowing team so instead he joined a club at Upton-upon-Severn, Worcs.

He is also a talented saxophonist who once busked on the streets on Tewkesbury to raise funds for his rowing.

He now lives in Reading.

"Until Zac's success I'm sure most people connected Tewkesbury with flooding. It's not an area famous for much else other than the battle in the Wars of the Roses. Zac's put that right." Paul Furley, BBC Radio Gloucestershire sports journalist

HAVERING, EAST LONDON: Mark Hunter, rowing - lightweight men's double sculls

Mark Hunter

Hunter has one of the most romantic Olympic tales to tell. Born in London's East End, his first rowing club was Poplar Blackwall & District Rowing Club on the Isle of Dogs - hailed as one of Britain's few "working class clubs" by Sir Steve Redgrave.

Hunter trained as a boatman on the River Thames and qualified as a Waterman & Lighterman. He remains a Freeman of the Thames but now lives in High Wycombe, Bucks.

"It's absolutely fantastic news that Mark Hunter, who grew up and trained in Havering, has won an Olympic gold medal." Havering Mayor, Cllr John Clark

"He's my nephew and I can't say how proud I am of him. He won the gold (with Zac) in the lightweight rowing and he's a proper British hero and a lovely, lovely boy." Liz Hunter

CARSHALTON, SURREY: Rebecca Romero, cycling - women's individual pursuit

Rebecca Romero

Local fans in Surrey who watched home town girl Romero row her way to a silver medal in the Olympics in Athens have now seen her strike gold after switching sports.

She was born in Carshalton and grew up in nearby Wallington.

It was a family move to Twickenham when Romero was 17 that first prompted her interest in rowing and she joined Kingston Rowing Club.

Her initial forays into cycling were with a club at High Wycombe, Bucks, but once she established her prowess she moved to Manchester to take advantage of its facilities.

"Rebecca was a student between 1991 and 1996 and her tremendous success in both rowing and cycling are a reflection of that determination, ability and sheer hard work which characterised her time here. Her motto is 'you can but dream... but can you live your dream'."Wallington High School, Surrey

"My local Olympic hero is Rebecca Romero. I have discovered she lives just up the road from me, and there I was thinking we were all just townie couch potatoes!" Rufus McDufus, Twickenham

MAIDA VALE, WEST LONDON: Bradley Wiggins, cycling - men's team pursuit and men's individual pursuit

Bradley Wiggins

Wiggins, who has raced to gold at two consecutive Olympics, was born in the Belgian city of Ghent, where his father Gary was competing professionally.

His parents split up and he moved to London and he grew up in Maida Vale. He started racing at south London's Herne Hill velodrome aged 12.

When the Tour de France prologue came to London last year, he told Cycling News that he had an advantage because it passed near Hyde Park, where he first started cycling.

Although he is now based in Chorley, Lancs, close to the Manchester Velodrome, he has been appointed an official cycling ambassador for London.

CARDIFF: Geraint Thomas, cycling - men's team pursuit

Geraint Thomas

The Welsh quarter of Britain's record-shattering pursuit team was born and bred in Cardiff.

His family lives in the Whitchurch area of the city and he attended Whitchurch High School, where Welsh First Minister Rhodri Morgan and international footballer Gareth Bale are other old boys.

As a young rider, Thomas was a member of Maindy Leisure Centre's cycling team, the Maindy Flyers.

And unlike his Manchester-based team-mates, he continues to live largely in his home city, in the Rhiwbina area.

"Cardiff is a proud sporting city and sport pulls this city together. Everyone here knew Geraint could do it - his selfless nature for his team epitomises what Cardiff is about." Peter Shuttleworth, BBC Wales sports journalist

SUTTON COLDFIELD, WEST MIDLANDS: Paul Manning, men's team pursuit cycling

Paul Manning

It was third time lucky for Manning in Beijing after winning bronze and silver respectively in the same event at Sydney and Athens.

The 33-year-old was born in Sutton Coldfield and studied Earth Sciences at Birmingham University , which gave him a sporting achievement award last year.

He now lives in Stockport, where the Stockport Express has given him a new nickname - the Stockport Flyer.

HUDDERSFIELD: Ed Clancy, cycling - men's team pursuit

Ed Clancy

Clancy has had two Yorkshire towns cheering him on in. He was born in Barnsley but started cycling seriously at the age of 14 when he joined the Holme Valley Wheelers club in Huddersfield. He also attended Huddersfield Technical College.

The 23-year-old even has his fans in Gloucestershire thanks to his parents Kevin and Kathy who live in Tetbury.

But Clancy himself now lives in Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, and his performance earned congratulations from his local council in St Helens.

"Ed is proof that there's more than football and rugby league that come out of Huddersfield. He's brought a touch of gold to the town." James Deighton, sports reporter, BBC Radio Leeds

ROTHERHAM: Paul Goodison, sailing - men's laser

Paul Goodison

Often described as a Sheffield sailor because he was born there, his family later moved to Rotherham and made their home there.

Goodison, now 30, learned to sail on a reservoir in Rotherham and splits his time between the Yorkshire town and Weymouth where he is already preparing for his Olympic challenge in 2012.

But he also maintains his links with his birthplace. He is a massive fan of Sheffield United and took manager Kevin Blackwell out on the water earlier this year.

STOTFOLD, BEDFORDSHIRE: Victoria Pendleton, cycling - women's individual sprint

Victoria Pendleton

Pendleton is such a hero in her home town she had a cycle path named after her, even before her Olympic triumph in Beijing.

The stretch of the National Cycleway running from Stotfold to Arlesey is now known as Pendleton Way. The 27-year-old said she remembers cycling the route "thousands of times" from the age of six onwards.

She studied Sport and Exercise Science at Northumbria University and arranged to have her course work placement at the Manchester Velodrome, where she was already being trained towards eventual Olympic glory.

"Victoria Pendleton is the pin-up girl of Britain's Olympic team. But on Tuesday she did not need to pose in nothing, or even next to nothing. Her winning smile was instead paired off with the perfect accessory - a winning gold medal." Editorial comment in local newspaper, the Hitchin Comet

"Stotfold is so very proud of Vicky Pendleton - it's only a small place and it's just great to have an Olympic champion. It's particularly nice for us Stotfoldites in exile to hear the Stotfold accent on TV when Vicky is interviewed." Patricia Clegg, Formerly of Stotfold

STRATFORD, EAST LONDON: Christine Ohuruogu, athletics - women's 400m

Christine Ohuruogu

Of all the athletes bringing home gold for Britain, Ohuruogu can really claim to be on home turf when it comes to defending her title in 2012.

The 24-year-old was born within a quick sprint of the 2012 Olympics site in Stratford, east London, and was still living at home with her parents and seven siblings when she raced to the World Championships title last year.

Her talents were honed by her local club, Newham and Essex Beagles. But before settling on an athletics career, she represented the borough of Newham playing netball at the London Youth Games.

She even stayed in the capital to pursue her academic career, studying linguistics at University College, London.

"She carried on training through a year's ban caused by careless mistakes, and took notice of some good advice from previous gold medallist Tessa Sanderson. The Stratford top woman of the 2008 Olympic games, Christine Ohuruogu!"Alan Griffiths, Forest Gate

"As a massive fan of track and field athletics, my local Olympic hero has to be Christine Ohuruogu. She never seems to lose a major final - Commonwealth gold 2006, World gold 2007 and Olympic gold 2008." Ibbo, London

SHERBORNE, DORSET: Andrew Simpson, sailing - star class

Andrew Simpson

Simpson was born in Chertsey, Surrey, and his first experience of sailing was with his father in Christchurch, Dorset.

He now lives in Sherborne, Dorset.

SOUTHAMPTON, HAMPSHIRE: Iain Percy, sailing - star class

Iain Percy

Percy, the 32-year-old who previously won gold in Sydney, was born in Southampton and began his life at sea with Weston Sailing club in the town.

He attended the same college in Winchester as fellow gold medallist Ben Ainslie - although he is one year older - and he now lives in the Hampshire city.

And Hayling Island, just along the coast, also has a claim that he is one of their own. He sailed there a lot while growing up and has said it is his favourite sailing spot.

WALTON-ON-THAMES, SURREY: Tim Brabants, canoeing - flatwater K1 1000m

Tim Brabants

Tim Brabants was born in Walton-on-Thames and started paddling at the age of 10 with Elmbridge Canoe Club.

He studied medicine at Nottingham University and took a year out from the water to serve as a house doctor in Jersey, but is now back full time in his canoe.

He is the current world, European and now Olympic champion in the K1 1000m event.

HAMMERSMITH, WEST LONDON: James DeGale, boxing - middleweight

James DeGale

James DeGale beat Cuba's Emilio Correa Bayeaux on points in the middleweight final despite being one of the outsiders for gold.

The 22-year-old from the Dale Youth Amateur Boxing Club in North Kensington was already a bronze medallist from the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

Nicknamed Chunky, DeGale began boxing at the Trojan club in north-west London at the age of 10.


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