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Olympic champion Watkins revels in golden homecoming

Published: 31 Aug 2012 12:300 comments

AT 85mm across, 7mm thick, and weighing 400g, an Olympic gold medal from London 2012 is the largest that has ever been made - making it the perfect size for a coaster, according to Anna Watkins.

Anna Watkins, centre, on her row past in Henley.

Rather than staring at the tea leaves to get a glimpse of her future, the Wokingham rower can marvel at her golden prize and relive a truly unforgettable summer.

Watkins and her partner, Maidenhead-based Katherine Grainger, have beeen thrust into the national limelight like never before since winning gold more than three weeks ago.

But on Saturday, it was time to celebrate with her local club Leander and the people of Henley-on-Thames at a special heroes' return.

Speaking exclusively to the News at Leander, Watkins said: "It's certainly been a different life in the last two weeks but I don't think it's going to change in the long run.

"I'm quite looking forward to things being normal, mainly because I need some sleep."

However, she realises that all good things must come to an end at some point.

"It has been wonderful, we've had so many amazing opportunities to do wonderful things and have met so many fantastic people.

"I think I need to get my feet back on the ground and get on with the rest of my life."

Last weekend was a moment to savour for Watkins, though, as thousands of people lined the banks of the river to congratulate her and 18 other Leander athletes and coaches in a row past.

Afterwards, the athletes went on an open-top bus tour of Henley before a private reception in the Town Hall.

Leander had 21 athletes represented in the GB squad and they all reached the finals with 12 of them winning medals, raising the club's total tally to 111 Olympic medals since 1908.

When asked about her gold medal, Watkins said:"It's definitely what you'd imagine what an Olympic gold medal would be like.

"It's really solid. It's about the size of a coaster, I think that's what I'll end up using it for in the long run because you can fit a good mug of tea on it.

"It's really satisfying. It's nice when you pass it around children, it's really tangible. They get very excited."

Reliving her Olympic memories, the 29-year-old said: "It was about the week of competition for me and that was very very special.

"To be competing at Eton Dorney with the crowd that we had, it felt like you were ready for the Olympic Stadium and I will treasure those memories forever."

However, she refused to be drawn on her commitment for Rio 2016, explaining: "I'm giving myself a couple of months to decide. Now's not really the time to make any big decisions and there's a lot to consider. It's a four year commitment.

"We have just had what will be the highlight of all our careers so we have to weigh up how that affects what we do in the future."

Watkins will be having one 'last hurrah' when she races in America in a few weeks' time.

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