McKeever's return sparks a gold rush in Bradford on Avon
6:34pm Monday 20th August 2012 in By Craig Jones
MCKEEVER fever took Bradford on Avon by storm this afternoon when the town’s golden boy returned to greet his army of fans.
The kayak king, who took gold in the K1 200m at Eton Dorney, on Saturday, August 11, was greeted by hundreds of his adoring supporters as the town came to a standstill.
The Olympian posed for pictures with residents at the town’s new golden post box, in The Shambles, painted in his honour by the Royal Mail.
He also signed autographs, £20 notes and dozens of copies of the Wiltshire Times as police closed Market Street because of the sheer number of people who came to see their hero with the
crowd overflowing into the road.
Former St Laurence student, McKeever, 28, who was visibly moved by the huge crowd, said: “It’s amazing the support from everyone and just seeing so many people filling the street beforehand was
overwhelming to say the least.
“I was expecting to come down here and see one woman walking her dog down past the post box and me to be stood here on my own but that wasn’t the case.”
McKeever, who grew up in Farleigh Wick and joined Bradford on Avon Rowing and Canoe Club at the age of 12, said the last week has been the most bizarre of his life.
He made sure that none of his supporters where left disappointed ensuring all the patient crowd got to see his gold medal dangling proudly from his neck.
McKeever said: “Everyone has just been so congratulatory and they have been saying ‘well done’ and everyone just seems really proud which is amazing. I’m so happy to see a smile on everyones’ faces
and it just shows me what it means to them as well as me.
“I’m so happy the post box has now become something of a tourist attraction and I actually posted three letters in it myself - which were three late wedding invitations.”
He carried on his homecoming celebrations at the Fat Fowl, in Silver Street, before having a barbecue down at his old club, in Pound Lane.
Last week, the kayaker went to Dorset with his fiancée Anya Kuczha, 26, and his dog Lucy, to relax and soak in the memories of his momentous win in the waters of Dorney Lake.
The couple are now hoping to focus on their forthcoming wedding on September 22, in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, where McKeever now lives.
Miss Kuczha, who made 14 t-shirts for friends and family to wear in support of her future husband in his Olympic final, said: “It has been such a busy, busy and surreal nine days or so to say the
least. It is lovely for Ed to comeback and soak all this in. It is truly amazing to see how much joy a gold medal can bring to a town.”
As McKeever chatted to fans, to the soundtrack of Elbow’s One Day Like This and M People’s Proud, his fiancée, brother Tom and parents Derek and Janice looked on with beaming with pride as golden
sunshine glared over Bradford on Avon.
Town councillor Isabel Martindale, who gave a speech welcoming the kayaker back to Bradford on Avon, said: “He’s been an inspiration to the town, he has an abundance of determination and
self-belief and is an shinning example for the youth of Bradford on Avon.
“He’s also been fantastic today making sure to sign an autograph for everyone and posing for pictures.”
Town Clerk Diane Holmes said the homecoming event had been a massive success and that it ran as smoothly as it could do.
She said: “It has been a great day and in preparation we could never have accounted for how many people were going to attend. I think the day has gone fantastically and we’ve just been completely bowled over by the amount of people here.”
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