Page last updated at 12:56 GMT, Sunday, 10 August 2008 13:56 UK

Cooke's Olympic gold celebrated


Parents' joy at Cooke's gold

As Welsh cyclist Nicole Cooke took Britain's first Olympic gold medal of 2008, people living in her home village celebrated her victory.

Her parents and friends watched her win the gruelling race at their home in Wick in the Vale of Glamorgan.

An impromptu party was then arranged at their local pub, the Lamb and Flag, to toast the 25-year-old.

Cooke was the first Welsh athlete to claim a gold medal at the Olympics since 1972.

Speaking from the family home, her mother Denise Cooke said: "I'm very, very excited and I just can't take it in at the moment.

Nicole Cooke holding her medal
Nicole Cooke won the first British gold medal in the 2008 Olympics

"It is such a fantastic achievement for Nicole and she has worked so hard over the last few years and we are very pleased for her.

"This was the ultimate goal for her. She has done a lot of hard work and preparation to achieve this ambition of hers and she has come up with a result.

"It was never in doubt for us.

"There was a lot of nervous tension in the house from me, Tony (Nicole's father) and her brother but I think she has done a lot of homework and studied videos and prepared very well for this.

"We spoke to her briefly after the race and it was just so great to talk to her."

Lyn Merrick from Llanblethian near Cowbridge and just a short distance from Wick watched Cooke's victorious race on the television with her husband.

She said: "She deserved it. She has worked very hard."

Mrs Merrick, 65, is a member of Cardiff AJAX Cycling club where Cooke first began training and has known Wales' newest Olympian since the age of 12.

"She is a very nice person, there are no airs or graces on her.

"You could see she was determined to win she always wanted to come first.

"You will often see her out here when she is home she will always wave and shout, she's a lovely girl," she added.

Barmaid at the Lamb and Flag pub Hannah Thomas said the efforts Cooke had put into practising had paid off.

Lyn Merrick
Lyn Merrick has known Nicole Cooke since she was a child

"We used to see her out on her bike in all weathers everyone here is so proud.

"She stood out, a girl, riding her bike, nothing would put her off.

"I'm really pleased, she showed such motivation from such a young age, it is wonderful it has paid off for her."

Phil Thomas 57, a lifelong Wick resident, who went to the pub for the celebrations said: "It has put the village on the map in the best possible way.

"What she had achieved is phenomenal. It is an example of what a young person can do with family support."

Cooke grabs first GB gold medal
10 Aug 08 |  Cycling
In pictures: Gold medal celebrations
10 Aug 08 |  In Pictures

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