Heading into Rio 2016 Joe Clarke’s bedroom wall had a signed photograph from Sir Steve Redgrave on it which read ‘no stone unturned’.
That piece of memorabilia is almost certainly still adorning the wall, but after following the message of his sporting hero to a T, Clarke has his own shiny trinket to take centre stage in his house.
And that’s because the 24-year-old stormed to Olympic gold, as well into the nation’s hearts, with canoe slalom K1 glory on Wednesday August 10.
The Stone paddler might have been somewhat of an unknown entity when he arrived in Brazil but he quickly set about changing that, looking in ominous form as he worked his way through the heats.
Clarke qualified for the showpiece as the third-fastest through the semi-finals, so he knew a shot at the podium was in his grasp.
But he saved his best for last and his storming solo run of 88.53 seconds proved enough to grab gold – Team GB’s second of the Games.
“I put it all out there and that was enough for the gold medal – it’s absolutely fantastic – a dream come true,” he said.
“I was joking with a friend – it will be so good to hear the national anthem for GB – but that was only joking – you can’t take anything for granted in this sport and now it has happened!
“The whole gameplan was to go through the rounds and I did that. Then I went out in that final run and put it all on the line.
“Joe Clarke – Olympic champion – that was what I went to bed last night dreaming about. I have dreamed about it for so many years.
“I woke up this morning thinking this was my chance – and it has all come together on the right day.”
Clarke’s best result heading to Rio was a World Cup silver he claimed back in 2014.
But in the build-up to the Games his girlfriend Charlotte Eddery-Joel had a recurring dream that Clarke would win Olympic bronze.
And that gives you a sense of the scale of this achievement – the Olympic gold was, quite literally, not something his friends and family were entertaining in their wildest dreams!
“I have been having a dream for the last three months that he was going to win a bronze medal – I didn’t think that it was going to be gold,” admitted Eddery-Joel.
“I feel like I am still in a dream and I am going to wake up soon – it is all so surreal.
“Once he had won the medal I didn’t care what colour it ended up being – I was just delighted.”
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