Olympic gold medallist Anna Watkins unsure about going for Rio games
OLYMPIC gold medallist Anna Watkins was met by crowds of shoppers when she returned to her home town yesterday.
The 29-year-old donned her gold medal as she posed for photographs at the golden post box in Leek, which was painted to mark her achievement.
The rower, of Longsdon, near Leek, and her partner Katherine Grainger, achieved their Olympic dreams earlier this month when they took gold in the women's double sculls.
The former Westwood College student said: "It has been a brilliant last few days and it's lovely to come back home.
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"Throughout my whole journey I have been aware of how much Leek has been behind me and I feel so proud.
"But the best part about it is I have my very own gold post box.
"When I started at Cambridge University I found it quite intimidating. There were lots of people from various backgrounds and I started rowing because it was something different that I could enjoy.
"For a couple of years I was involved purely because I was enjoying the social aspect of it.
"Through rowing I met some lovely people who made me feel comfortable. We had complete trust in each other and I built some really strong friendships. It wasn't until a couple of years later that I discovered I had a natural way with it and thought I was an incredible opportunity to take part in the Olympics. I just thought to myself if I can do it mentally then I can do it physically too."
Anna, whose parents Richard and Caroline coach at North Staffordshire Rowing Club, at Rudyard, took bronze in Beijing and remains undefeated since teaming up with Grainger in 2010.
The duo have won gold at the last two World Championships.
But Anna is undecided whether she will be going for gold again in Rio in 2016.
She added: "In terms of rowing, I really don't know where I will go from here.
"It has been a weird couple of weeks and at the moment I'm on cloud nine.
"Before I make such a decision about my future, I need to make sure my feet are firmly on the ground.
"On the one hand I am young enough to do it again, but on the other hand I have achieved what I set out to do and that's taking a gold in front of a home crowd, so it is yet to be decided.
"But I shall be coming and going from Leek over the next few months as all my friends and family are here. I have made arrangements to go into schools for talks so I'm still quite busy."
Shopper Steve Edwards, from Stone, was in Leek when Anna was showing off her gold medal.
The 47-year-old said: "It is amazing to see a real, Olympic gold medal and the gold post box is a great tribute to all of Anna's hard work.
"I have never spoken to her personally, but I know a man who used to go school with her. It's impressive that an Olympic gold medal has been won by a local girl."