Celebrations had to be put on hold for rower Andy Hodge despite having grabbed one of sports greatest achievements – an Olympic gold medal.

There was no wild party awaiting the 29-year-old former pupil of Upper Wharfe-dale School, who led the men’s four to victory in an edge-of-the-seat final on Saturday.

He needed to stay focused and in race mode in case he was called on to crew the men’s eight boat the following day as a sub – a duty he was not asked to fulfil as the eight claimed bronze.

But it was still a whirlwind of congratulations and media interviews for the man who only came into rowing at Staffordshire University, where he swapped sports from rugby to escape the hangovers.

One of his first messages was to his friends and family in his home village of Hebden, near Skipton, which he left ten years ago.

He said: “I have missed home ever since. I hope to return one day soon to familiar smiles, a good pint of bitter and a glimpse of the wonderful life I left behind.”

He need not have feared that Hebden folk had forgotten him.

On Saturday morning they were crowded into the local pub, The Clarendon Hotel, to see Andy and crewmates Tom James, Pete Reed and Steve Williams snatch victory in the last few metres from the Australian crew, who had led most of the way.

“I don’t know where the last 250 metres came from, I was in so much pain,” he said. “I’ve never been in that pain in my entire life.”

“I needed to start a harder pace in the middle. I thought we had another gear, but I never thought we had that.”

The win meant the nation and particularly folk in the Clarendon could breath again – and shed a few tears – having held their breath seemingly for the race’s full six minutes, seven seconds.

They saw Andy, a former pupil of Burnsall School, gasping for air as he and the crew took in the realisation of their achievement.

“There was a point in the last 500 when I remember really vividly thinking ‘we might not get this’,” he said. “It sounds really cheesy and I don’t know if it made a difference or not, but I thought ‘I want this medal and I have nothing to hold me back, no extra race’.

“You often say to yourself ‘if I don’t win, it’s not worth it. I will have thrown away the last four years’. In six minutes we decided that it was worth it. That was a big moment. It has all been worthwhile.”