Olympic heroes Lauren Price and Lauren Williams received a warm reception as they were paraded through their home towns of Ystrad Mynach and Blackwood on Friday morning.
Residents lined the streets to catch a glimpse of gold-medallist boxer Price and taekwondo silver-medallist Williams, who were paraded in a chauffeur-driven open-top car.
The tour, which was organised by Caerphilly County Borough Coucil, started at the Centre for Sporting Excellence in Ystrad Mynach, where a ceremony was held to immortalise both Price and Williams onto a brand new ‘Wall of Fame’.
After the Olympians left the Centre for Sporting Excellence, they headed into Ystrad Mynach town centre, where residents gathered to greet them.
Among those waiting on Penallta Road were Mandy Saunders and her nine-year-old grandson Ollie.
Speaking to Caerphilly Observer, Ms Saunders said she felt “so proud” of the two Laurens, while Ollie said he felt inspired by the duo and dreams of running at the Olympic Games one day.
Ystrad Mynach resident Martin Evans, 57, was also on Penallta Road to greet the Olympians. He said: “It fills you with natural pride to see locals doing so well. It’s great for them and for the community.
“It’s also good to have some nice news after Covid.”
Roderick Davies, 60, said Price’s gold medal win had been “great” for Ystrad Mynach. He said: “It puts us on the map and gives people something to be happy about.
“It’s great to see someone from Ystrad Mynach do so well at the Olympics.”
These were views echoed by 40-year-old Gareth Evans, who described Price and Williams as “role models for everyone”.
Senghenydd resident Sarah Davies, who is originally from Atlanta, United States, was also there to greet the Olympians, alongside her six-month old child Riley and parents Cindy and Gary Teate – who had flown over from across the Atlantic to visit Wales.
Ms Davies said: “I can’t believe I’ve seen Olympic medals in the flesh. It’s great to be here and to see the community come together.”
In 1996, the family were able to attend some of the events at the Olympic Games, which were held in Atlanta that year.
After doing two laps of Ystrad Mynach town centre, the parade moved onto Blackwood, where crowds also gathered.
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How our Olympic heroes won their medals
Taekwondo star Lauren Williams was the first of the two Olympians to earn their medals during the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The 22-year-old reached the final of the women’s -67kg women’s final, but fell short to Croatia’s Matea Jelic, narrowly losing 25-22 despite holding a lead into the dying moments of the contest.
The competition was held in Chiba, near Tokyo on Monday, July 26.
En route to the final, Williams beat Tonga’s Malia Paseka 11-0 in the last 16, before edging Hedaya Malak, of Egypt, 13-12 in the quarter-finals.
Williams then secured her place in the final after a 24-18 semi-final victory over Cote d’Ivoire’s Ruth Gbagbi.
Speaking after the final, Williams told the BBC: “It’s not enough, I had her, ten seconds, I just let it go. I made a mistake and let it go, it’s on me.
“I went out there to win and tried my best but it didn’t happen on the day. I am very happy with how I performed but it’s a shame she got it.
“An Olympic silver medal is not bad, is it?”
Following on from Williams’ success, Price won Olympic gold after a comprehensive 5-0 victory over China’s Li Qian in the women’s middleweight final on August 8.
Price, who attended Heolddu Comprehensive School in Bargoed, marked her Olympic debut on July 28 with a 5-0 win over Mongolia’s Myagmarjargal Munkhbat in the last 16, before beating Panama’s Atheyna Bylon 5-0 on Saturday, July 31 to reach the semi-finals.
At the semi-final stage, she beat Nouchka Fontijn, of the Netherlands, on a split decision to reach the final.
Price was given a hero’s welcome as she returned to Ystrad Mynach on Tuesday, August 10.
Crowds adorned Penallta Road on Tuesday, August 10, waving Welsh flags to welcome back an emotional Price – who stopped for photos with residents young and old.
Upon arrival, Price was greeted by her grandmother, Linda.
Price dedicated her victory to her grandmother and late grandfather Derek, who passed away in November.
As a baby, Price was taken in and raised by her grandparents.
After her gold medal win, Price told the BBC: “I can’t really put into words what they’ve done for me over the years, I just love them both so much.
“Big shout out to my nan, I can’t wait to see her and show my medal off.”
A poem written by Hywel Griffiths:
(And Not Just For One Day!)
double Lauren for Caerphilly
This poem is written ,
for two special ladies,
Lauren WILLIAMS and Lauren PRICE:
The Pride of Caerphilly.
Stars of Tae-Kwando and Boxing
Having achieved amazing results,
Representing the UK as a nation
They should be seen as an example to all,
And as role models for their generation.
Putting Caerphilly on the map,
By their successes at the Olympic Games,
They should be recognised by the County,
With a lasting public tribute to their names.
It gives me a good feeling deep down inside,
And I feel honoured, privileged and full up with pride.
To know that their wonderous wins and incredible tales,
Have done so much to raise the profile of Caerphilly,
…and our great land of Wales.
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