Celebrations planned in Otley for GB's first medal winner Lizzie (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Celebrations planned in Otley for GB's first medal winner Lizzie
Celebrations were being planned today to give Otley Olympian Lizzie Armitstead the home-coming she deserves after she won Britain’s first medal of the games.
The 23-year-old took a silver in the women’s road race, narrowly outsprinted to the finishing line in The Mall by pre-race favourite, Dutch rider Marianne Vos.
Speaking to the Telegraph & Argus minutes after the race had finished, her brother, Nick, said: “She did amazingly well.
“She was clearly one of the strongest ones, it was just that another cyclist was a bit stronger.
“Now we are heading for drinks and we are very proud of Lizzie. We were proud that she was an Olympian and now she has won a medal it is amazing.
“I knew if the race went to plan she was capable of winning it and I am not surprised she got a medal.”
He travelled to London to watch the race with his mother Carol, father Jon, and sister Kate, who works for Bradford Council.
Lizzie’s grandparents, Marjorie and Ray Dunn, were also among her proud family members who cheered her to the line.
Her mother, Carol, said she was “so proud” of her daughter, who did not get into cycling until she was 16.
Mrs Armitstead said: “It is more than we could have hoped for.”
Her tearful grandfather Ray Dunn added: “I was disappointed and delighted – I knew she wanted the gold. I am tearful, I am delighted.”
Her grandmother, Marjorie Dunn, sporting a t-shirt with “I’m Lizzie’s Grandma” emblazoned across the front, added: “A granddaughter who is an Olympian is something very, very special.”
Mrs Armitstead continued: “We knew from 35km down that, providing that bunch didn’t catch them, she was in for a medal, but which one was it going to be?”
Mrs Armitstead added that her daughter was a slow starter and only started cycling aged 16, even though she loved sport all her life.
Mrs Dunn said she had not been able to sleep in recent days with the excitement of the race looming.
“I thought: ‘I hope she is sleeping’,” she said.
“I know she has done her best. When she was cycling she had a smile on her face. She enjoyed that race. It showed in her body, the way she moved. She is so professional and that is another side of Lizzie that I admire.”
Otley Town Mayor Mary Vickers added her congratulations.
“We are so proud of this wonderful achievement and everyone in Otley and the Town Council are proud of her.
“It is the first British medal to be won and to be won by an Otley lady is amazing and we shall be having big celebrations.”
Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland, whose constituency includes Otley, described Lizzie’s success as “fantastic”.
“It is fantastic for the nation and fantastic for Otley,” he said. “To have someone from the town winning medals it’s just incredible.
“We are already very proud of Lizzie and to have an Olympian is great. Everyone was very proud when she set out to compete. But for her to come out with a medal is really great.”
Councillor Colin Campbell (Lib-Dem, Otley and Yeadon ) said he had been glued to the television screen as the race was shown live and that he felt like he had taken part in it himself.
“It is absolutely great news,” he added. “I am just happy she did as well as she did. It is terrific for all competitors and Lizzie did us proud.
“It is good for Otley and is good for young people as it shows that a lot of talent is in Otley and in England.
“I think if it encourages more people to get on their bike it is a good thing.”
People also came out in force to watch the race on the big screen in Centenary Square, Bradford.
An emotional Terry Jackman had tears in his eyes when Lizzie finished. His claim to fame was that he had fixed her sister Kate’s puncture once when he was out cycling in the district.
Mr Jackman, of Queensbury , said: “It was a fantastic performance considering there were three of them in the last breakaway group,” he said.