A night of sporting pride as Games heroes return to Mansfield
THERE must be something in the water. Or perhaps it was the famous local beer now, sadly, brewed elsewhere.
No one will quite know the secrets to Mansfield's success at the Olympic and Paralympic Games with the town's athletes bagging one gold, two silver and four bronze medals.
Hundreds of well-wishers gathered at the town's Market Place yesterday evening to celebrate their sporting stars, including Becky Adlington, Charlotte Henshaw and Ollie Hynd.
Swimming star Ollie Hynd, who lives in Kirkby-in-Ashfield but trains with Mansfield's Nova Centurions – the same club as Becky and Charlotte – finished the Paralympics with a gold, silver and bronze medal.
He said the Games were an unforgettable experience.
"To hold these medals, to carry them around in my pocket or to show them to people, it's just the icing on the cake," he said.
"Even though it was a home games, I didn't feel the pressure – I knew the crowds were there wishing me well and would support me no matter what.
"To see the support for the Paralympics was fantastic. It's been a long time coming, but to see people take such an interest is fantastic."
Swimmer Charlotte Henshaw was also glad to see people supporting the Paralympic Games.
She said: "It's really hard to say just how incredible it has been – you live in a bubble for weeks and come back to cheering crowds, it's brilliant.
"The support for the games was huge, and it will be difficult to top that."
Rebecca Adlington, who took home two bronze medals from the Olympics, said: "The games were electric – they were seven years in the making and it just seemed to all go by so quickly.
"I have some brilliant memories to take away with me from the Games and if young people look at me or Ollie and think I want to take up swimming, then that's wonderful."
Mansfield Mayor Tony Egginton said he was delighted to be welcoming back the athletes to Mansfield.
He said: "No one quite knows why Mansfield was so successful, but it's great for the town.
"Perhaps it was the beer, the old Mansfield Brewery – the athletes' dads might have been brought up on it... of course, the only way we'll find out is if we reopen the brewery."