Canoe club hails slalom ace Stott

22 August 2012 / 21:03

Gold medal-winning canoeist Etienne Stott performed some tricks in the water for his fans as he returned to the club where his love of slalom began on Wednesday.

The 33-year-old, who took Britain's first ever Olympic gold in the C2 category of the canoe slalom with team-mate Tim Baillie in the London 2012 Games, was greeted by more than 80 members of the Viking Kayak Club in Bedford.

Many more well-wishers gathered to watch as Stott, who developed his slalom skills with the club as a teenager, took to the River Great Ouse in Bedford town centre. Stott signed autographs and posed for photos with fans old and young with his gold medal proudly on show.

The canoeist, who was born in Manchester but grew up in Bedford, learned to paddle on the River Great Ouse with his scout group before joining the club. Stott, whose parents still live in Bedford, beamed as he gave those in the water an impromptu coaching session in slalom canoeing.

The Olympian, who has been living in London for the last 18 months while training for the Olympics, said: "It's absolutely fantastic to be back here tonight. I was last here a few months ago for the 60th anniversary. It's lovely and there's a lot of old friends here tonight as well some of the oldest members of the club and also new young recruits."

Speaking about his win, Stott said: "It's a dream come true. It's taken me 20 years. I started the training in 91/92 and it's been a long journey. That's not to say this is the end of the journey but it's a key moment after a long journey travelled. It was surreal to be stood on that podium with the medal around my neck."

He said the response from members of the public since his win had been "truly heartwarming".

"It's been so lovely to meet people who enjoyed the canoeing and the Olympics. There is still such a great buzz around it and it's such a nice buzz to be part of," he said smiling at those still in the water.

"Since the win we've just been getting used to being Olympic champions, it's crazy how you don't realise how it's going to change your life. We've been responding to emails and messages from our supporters.

"Over the next few months I'm hoping to travel around other canoe clubs and schools and be an ambassador for the sport. I want people to know that their potential is unknown and you never know what the future might hold."