On Joe Clarke’s bedroom wall at home is a signed photograph from Sir Steve Redgrave on which it says: ‘No stone unturned’.
Well, Clarke has certainly taken that message to heart – and the hard work paid off in quite some style after the 23-year-old stormed to Olympic gold in the Canoe Slalom K1 yesterday.
The Stone paddler has now joined his hero Redgrave in sporting immortality with his historic achievement and what a day it was for the youngster.
He had looked in ominous form working through the heats earlier in the week and the semi-finals to qualify third fastest for the final.
A shot at the podium was on the cards for Clarke – who won a World Cup silver in 2014 but whose best career achievements have more often than not come in team events.
But he saved his best for last and his storming solo run of 88.53secs proved enough to grab gold .
“I put it all out there and that was enough for the gold medal – it’s absolutely fantastic – a dream come true,” he said.
“I was joking with a friend – it will be so good to hear the national anthem for GB – but that was only joking – you can’t take anything for granted in this sport and now it has happened.
“The whole gameplan today was to go through the rounds and I did that – and then I went out in that final run and put it all on the line.
“Joe Clarke – Olympic champion – that was what I went to bed last night dreaming about. I have dreamed about it for so many years.
“I woke up this morning thinking this was my chance – and it has all come together on the right day.”
Clarke certainly had a bit of luck along the way. World champion Jiri Prskavec accrued a two-second penalty to slip to bronze and Jakub Grigar from Slovakia fell to fifth with an error-strewn final run.
But you cannot begrudge Clarke his historic achievement – and he watched on as his run stayed top of the table in a nerve-wracking wait.
“I was ecstatic just to get bronze – then to upgrade it to silver and again to gold was mad,” he added.
“For sure I have had some luck but you need that in this sport to excel.
“That came today. I don’t know what I did to deserve that but I did something right along the way obviously.
“I went out there and wanted to grab it with both hands and that is exactly what I have done. I really can’t put into words how I am feeling right now. I am loving it.”
Life is about to change for Clarke, who now lives and trains near the Leigh Valley Centre. For one, he might just meet his hero Redgrave now.
“I have never met – well I did see him (Redgrave) across the room at Team GB house and I just spoke to him on the line on Five Live just now which was amazing. Hopefully, I am going to meet him in the future because he is a hero of mine.
“I really have left no stone unturned – it has not always been good times.
“But you need the bad to appreciate the good and wow this is a good day.”
Meanwhile, all the hard work finally paid off for Lewisham’s Steven Scott as he emerged victorious from the Battle of Britain to win Olympic double trap bronze.
Double Commonwealth Games champion Scott went up against compatriot Tim Kneale in a head-to-head for the final medal after they had earlier seen off Australian world No 1 James Willett in a dramatic shoot-out.
Scott held his nerve the best with a perfect score of 30 to Kneale’s 28 to secure Britain their second shooting medal in Rio after Ed Ling’s previous third-place finish on day three.
“It happened in Glasgow with my team-mate Matt French and I managed to come through there and I managed to do it here as well,” said Scott after winning his maiden Olympic medal.
‘I can’t describe what this means but I’ve worked my butt off.
“I do feel for him I have to say. We both put a tremendous amount of hard work and effort in just to get here, let alone make the final.
“It is a very emotional time for me. There is a part of me who wanted him to win as well as we worked so hard together.
“There was a part of me which felt guilty so I didn’t want to rub it in too much. But I’m sure we’ll have a beer later to celebrate.”
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