Olympic rowing gold medallist Andy Hodge flew home from Beijing yesterday with his successful teammates calling for others to get involved in the sport as he begins his preparations for the London Olympics in 2012.

Mr Hodge, one of 27 members of Team GB returning with a gold medal, plans to return to his home in Hebden, near Skipton, to show off his medal.

He has spoken about his mission to do the double and to see more British rowers at the London Olympics.

Britain’s 43-strong rowing team was the most successful on the water at Shunyi, winning more medals than any other nation and matched only by Australia in picking up two golds.

Mr Hodge, in the stroke position, with fellow oarsmen Tom James, Peter Reed and Steve Williams pipped the Aussies to gold in the men’s coxless four in a nerve-jangling finish.

But he is already looking forward to defending that Olympic title at Eton Dorney in four years’ time.

He said: “That chapter is over now; what remains is the next four years.

“London 2012 is now my target and when I finish enjoying this medal, the mission is on.

“The next four years isn’t about how I move on, but how we move on.

“I want to see more rowers on the Olympic stage come London.

“With my medal, I am now in a real position to make a difference.

“There are so many people who never had the chance to find the potential within themselves.

“I want to turn this around and see that as many people are motivated enough to reach out and find something besides a nine to five job.”

Andy’s parents, Liv, 59, a healthcare company director, and Peter, 65, a retired merchant sea captain, were at the waterside in Beijing to watch their son.

At the finish, his 28-year-old sister Carrie was so excited she dived into the water and swam to the boat to hug her brother.

Back at home in the UK, Liv said: “It’s an unbelievable achievement. He now needs a break and we are planning a family holiday in the South of France.”

Speaking for Craven District Council, chairman Marcia Turner said: “All the hard work Andy has put in has certainly paid off. It’s a thrill that he is one of our Craven boys and I’m sure he will be an inspiration to all aspiring athletes in the district. Well done, Andy!”

Anyone interested in getting involved in rowing should get in touch with their local club by visiting bradfordrowing.co.uk or yorkshirerowing.co.uk.

e-mail: clive.white@bradford.newsquest.co.uk