Hero's welcome for gymnastics star

Olympic gymnastics hero Kristian Thomas was given a rapturous but rain-soaked welcome on his return to his home club on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old, who landed a bronze medal in the men's team event, was greeted by hundreds of well-wishers at the Earls Gymnastics Club in Halesowen, West Midlands.

Thomas, who began training at the club aged just five, signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans who had waited outside the club amid torrential rain.

After being greeted by the Mayor of Dudley and other dignitaries, Thomas thanked members of the public and fellow club members for their support both during the Olympics and at his homecoming.

The athlete told fans gathered inside the Earls sports hall: "I am so grateful to everyone that has turned out tonight.

"I was sort of settling down into a normal daily routine and I have come here to the Olympic hype again - it's absolutely fantastic."

After posing for the cameras with local schoolchildren and his Olympic medal, Thomas, who helped win Britain's first men's gymnastics team medal since 1912, added: "It's been a complete whirlwind.

"The whole experience in the North Greenwich Arena that day was absolutely amazing - probably watching it on the TV you couldn't quite get the actual atmosphere."

Asked what his future plans were, Thomas replied: "I need to get back to the gym and do what I do best, which is working hard and training hard."

Jon Caulwell, Chairman of Earls Gymnastics Club, said Kristian had worked tirelessly to reach the very top of his sport.

"Kristian has helped raise the profile of his sport, his club and the Black Country and truly deserves the hero's welcome," he said.