Otley is a proud and close-knit town and one in which I am lucky to not only live in but represent in Parliament.
As a community we celebrate our achievements and work to make our town even greater and now, we are all able to come together and celebrate the amazing triumph of one of our favourite daughters, Lizzie Armitstead, who has won her first ever Olympic Medal!
Though the weather proved to be shocking during Lizzie’s 87-mile Women’s Olympic Road Race on Sunday, I knew that from training on the hills of Yorkshire, Lizzie would not be fazed by anything the elements threw at her.
It was only eight years ago that Lizzie entered into the world of professional cycling as, while a student at Otley’s Prince Henry’s Grammar School, her shining talent was spotted and she went on to ride through the ranks of the British Cycling’s Olympic Programme and added a stack of honours to what has been a highly successful and distinguished career and yet, Lizzie is now just 23 years old!
As Lizzie gained on Marianne Vos during Sunday’s race her years of dedication, discipline and complete focus were rewarded, the nail-biting sprint to the finish line was one that will stay in my memory forever as will the feeling of immense pride as she became the first Team GB Olympian of the 2012 Games to win a medal. The whole of Otley become one voice supporting one of our own and the tentacles of the pride the town feels at her amazing, medal-winning performance stretch all the way to London to embrace our hero.
The impact of Lizzie’s amazing success struck me even more as my family and I watched with pride as she received her silver medal. I turned to one of my young daughters who goes to school in our town, and said: “Isabel-she is from Otley” my daughter was awed and I know that Lizzie will be an inspire children to become the Olympians of tomorrow.
Lizzie has the world at her feet and the whole of Yorkshire and indeed Britain behind her, her ambition and determination have no bounds and I am in no doubt that this is just the first Olympic medal of her career. Her dedication has been rewarded in spectacular style but I know that it was also true Yorkshire grit that also got her over the finish line in such a thrilling and triumphant manner.
Well done Lizzie and I look forward to welcoming you home!