Otley Olympian Lizzie Armitstead was given a hero’s welcome yesterday – and a gold medal – by her old primary school.
By returning to The Whartons, the 23-year-old was keeping a promise she made on a visit before London 2012.
She arrived at the school – how else? – by bicycle. And not just any bike but the finely tuned machine on which she powered to an Olympic silver medal place.
Head Jane Sanders welcomed her to a special assembly, featuring a replay of the final sprint of the women’s road race, that was packed with excited pupils.
Looking at the big screen, Lizzie said: “I don’t want to watch!
“I know where I could have got gold. I should have gone a bit sooner and on the opposite side of the road. But there’s another Olympics in four years. It was an incredible experience. I’ve never, ever raced in front of that many people before.”
She also gave some insights into what life was like inside the Olympic Village.
She said: “We ate in a big hall a bit like this one and people like Usain Bolt could walk in. It was very strange to be in a place where there were other athletes I thought of as famous – and I was one of them.”
The children let out a mass gasp when Lizzie took out her silver medal to show them, surprised at how heavy it was.
Showing off her bike, she said: “Normally you have to give your bike back at the end of the season but my team were very nice and let me keep mine.
“I’ve had a lot of people wanting to buy it but I wouldn’t sell it.”
The pupils ended the assembly by presenting her with a gold merit badge, a gold mini Olympics medal and a Whartons pen.
Last week Lizzie teamed up with fellow London 2012 medallists Ed Clancy and Luke Campbell to open Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland in York.
She told the Wharfedale & Aireborough Observer: “Life has changed quite a lot since winning the medal, with lots of events to attend, which is quite new for me but great fun and I’ll make the most of it.
“But I still have to go out and train in all weathers, so it’s not all glamorous.
“For me, coming home to Otley with my medal in the summer was the highlight of the Olympics.”