Golden girl Anna Watkins describes 'unbelievable atmosphere'By Jon Nurse
August 09, 2012
Olympic heroine Anna Watkins says her feet haven’t touched the floor since her sensational gold medal row on Friday.
The gold medallist described the past days as a ‘whirlwind’ and has only been able to spend eight hours at her Wokingham town centre home since the triumph.
“I’m in awe of what everyone is doing at the Games and I can’t believe we’ve done it as well,” she said. “I don’t know what planet I’m on at the moment. It’s been very odd walking around and people saying ‘Look it’s those girls!’”
Wokingham’s borough and town councils are now working on plans to recognise Anna’s achievement and she aims to share her medal with the borough’s schoolchildren.
The Wokingham wonder and rowing partner Katherine Grainger powered to a double sculls gold at Eton Dorney ahead of rivals Australia. Friends and family toasted Anna’s success in a celebration at her Wokingham home on Friday.
The pair built a commanding lead from the start of Friday’s final to secure Great Britain’s sixth gold of the Games.
“We have never been beaten as a combination. We were targeting gold and anything else would have been devastating,” the 29-year-old said.
“At the time I was just thinking about our plan and how the race was panning out.
“It wasn’t until we crossed the line that I dared to think it was the Olympic final.
“The atmosphere was absolutely unbelievable – I’ve never known anything like it. It was like rowing into a stadium.”
The rowing champion, who has lived in Wokingham for more than four years, added: “I’d love school kids to get the chance to see the medal and have a chance to tell them about it.”
Anna’s dad Richard Bebington cheered the champion over the line from the grandstand.
“I’m just about getting my voice back,” he said. “I’ve felt such a mixture of emotions since she crossed the line.
“Part of it still feels like a dream. People have been sharing their experiences of watching the race and it’s made me realise how much it affected people and that makes me all the more proud.”
Wokingham misses out on the gold post box which is painted in the hometown of each gold medallist – her childhood home near Leek in North Staffordshire has been selected.
“I’ve seen a copy of her stamp and it looks great,” Mr Bebington said. “Caroline [Anna’s mum] has had some set aside at Wokingham post office. She was having some difficulty until she explained who she was!”
Town mayor councillor Peter Lucey said: “On behalf of the town council and the residents of the town, I would like to send congratulations to Anna on her phenomenal achievement.
“I am absolutely delighted to see a local sportswoman achieve such success, which I am sure will inspire young people across Wokingham and beyond.”
The Olympic champion is savouring the Games now and not thinking ahead yet.
“I can’t get my head around gearing up for another Olympics yet,” Anna said.
“My sister has just had a baby and we’re feeling similar: it’s amazing and wonderful but you can’t imagine doing it again straight away.”