David's our Olympic hero

THE grandparents of an Edinburgh canoeist who scooped silver at the Beijing Olympics have spoken of their pride at seeing him take to the podium.

David Florence secured Britain's first silver medal of the Games with a perfect run in the men's slalom canoe.

The grandparents of the 26-year-old former Stewart's Melville pupil cracked open the bubbly yesterday after watching his victory on television at their Juniper Green home.

Sheila and Adam Ramage watched as David produced a flawless performance.

It also emerged yesterday that the sportsman's Olympic success came hot on the heels of a rejection from the European Space Agency after he applied to become an astronaut. He had been so keen to get in that he had lied about being able to speak Russian on his application form.

After the medal win, proud grandmother Mrs Ramage said yesterday: "I was thrilled to bits. I watched the television all day yesterday, and all day today. He had two runs today. In the first run he had a two-second penalty, and he had a brilliant second run, which is why he did so well."

After the victory, she spoke on the phone to her daughter, David's mum Jill, who is in Beijing supporting him.

Mrs Ramage said: "She was absolutely thrilled and delighted for David. He's been receiving his medal and has been talking to Gaby Roslin and he's been talking to his family."

Mrs Ramage said her grandson had left for Beijing with a level head: "David's really far too sensible to hope for anything, because he knew better than anybody that anything can happen. He was focussed and he was thinking positively and he was well prepared. He's spent the last four years working towards it. I think he'll carry on for 2012, but I don't know."

David, who celebrated his birthday on the day of the Olympic opening ceremony, said: "I put in a good final run there and in the pressure of a big final it is the most exciting time to do it.

"It was a bit nerve-wracking watching the guys follow. I was happy. I had done a good run and that was all that I could do. A medal is what I have been after for the last four years."

The canoeist moved to the Capital from Aberdeen at the age of six, and was initially a pupil at Roseburn Primary School. He began canoeing on a family holiday in Cornwall. He is a member of the Forth Canoe Club, and took part in his first competitive slalom event at the age of 14.

Club treasurer David Cuthill said: "This is by far the biggest competition he has ever won. He is capable of holding it together under these big conditions".

Mrs Ramage said it was too soon to have laid any plans for a celebration on his return but added: "I had a party at the golf club today, we had several bottles of bubbly, and it was very nice."

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