Published: 30 July 2012
Report: Eddie Allen
Image: Phil O'Connor
Following an impressive and mature performance from Lizzie Armitstead in the women’s road race, resulting in Team GB’s first medal of London 2012, praise for the British Cycling Podium Programme rider has been coming in from all quarters, with accolades from Lizzie’s family, important figures in the world of sport and locals from Lizzie’s hometown of Otley, West Yorkshire.
Above: Lizzie's delight at receiving her Olympic silver medal was shared by many in the wake of a fine women's road race on Sunday.
Lizzie’s mother Carol was one of a legion of fans on The Mall yesterday and could not contain her pride for her daughter, who spotted by British Cycling’s Talent Team at age 16: "We are so proud. Silver medal, it is more than we could hope for.
"It is wonderful, they deserved it. We just kept saying: 'Come Lizzie, come on'. I knew she could do it. I knew how much she wanted it.
"We knew from 35K down that, providing that bunch didn't catch them, she was in for a medal, but which one was it going to be?"
Lizzie’s grandfather Ray Dunn, there too on The Mall, was emotional: "I was disappointed and delighted - I knew she wanted the gold. I am tearful, I am delighted."
Marjorie Dunn, Lizzie’s grandmother wore a t-shirt with "I'm Lizzie's Grandma" proudly printed across the front and said: "A granddaughter who is an Olympian is something very, very special."
The joy of the Armitstead family was shared by scores of fans who’d journeyed from Lizzie’s home county of Yorkshire to support the 23 year old.
Otley Cycle Club’s Peter Middlebrooke was amongst them, remembering when Armitstead had competed in the club’s famous circuit races, long an integral part of British Cycling’s National Circuit Series:
He said: "She didn't take part in the last one because, obviously, she couldn't risk anything happening to her. At the time we thought it was a bit disappointing. But I'd have swapped seeing her there to see her win a medal any day.
"You never think an Olympic medallist will come from your town.
"We thought it was a great achievement for her just to compete. We never dreamed she'd be at the finish with a medal.
"Whether it's sunk in yet with Lizzie I don't know. I think it'll take her quite a while.
"As a club, and I'm sure as a town, we'll recognise this massive achievement somehow."
Back in Otley, Olympic flags were displayed along the High Street on race day in anticipation of Lizzie’s success.
"Quite a few of us on the street have been waiting for this afternoon,” said one of the Armitstead’s neighbours. "She did an amazing job and I couldn't believe it when it was clear she'd make the top three.
"I sometimes saw her warming up, riding up and down the street. She'd wear what looked like a Team GB suit.
Anthony Middlemiss, who lives next door to Lizzie, said: "She's trained hard, has the lass, so well done to her."
British Olympic Association chief Andy Hunt joined the plaudits for Armistead, saying that her silver medal would inspire the entire Team GB squad to greatness and lift the spirits of cycling fan’s following bitter disappointment in the men’s road race.
He said: "Congratulations to Lizzie and her team-mates for their outstanding accomplishment today. For Lizzie to be the first medallist for Team GB, and to do so at a home Games, is an extraordinary accomplishment.
"We operate as One Team GB, and when one group of athletes succeeds, it provides a lift throughout the entire team. Success can be a momentum-builder, and I'm certain this will be a source of pride and inspiration for our entire delegation."
Great Britain Cycling Team women's road coach Chris Newton said: "Lizzie gave it everything. She did everything right. You can't ask for any more.
"Lizzie was having to sprint against those two and played it really well."
The race was a tactic triumph from Newton and his team, who now go on to compete in the women’s time trial on Wednesday 1 August, with Emma Pooley, who sacrificed everything for Armitstead in the road race, Britain’s best bet for a medal.