Rio 2016: Olympic champ sleeps with his new gold medal

Gold medal-winning kayaker Joe Clarke with his inspiration Dame Kelly Holmes at last nights celebration Pic: JP
Gold medal-winning kayaker Joe Clarke with his inspiration Dame Kelly Holmes at last nights celebration Pic: JP

Olympic champ Joe Clarke has told how he is sleeping with his new gold medal after his dream came true.

Now he won’t be parted with it and joked he doesn’t want to lose it.

The 23-year-old is riding the crest of a wave after winning the men’s kayak singles canoe slalom.

“I’m sleeping with this around my neck - that way I can’t loose it,” said Clarke, in our exclusive chat as he clutched the medal.

“I can’t put it into words how I feel.

“The closest thing I can say is it feels out of this world - cloud nine and I’m not coming down any time soon.

“I’m speechless. It’ a dream come true.”

It is Britain’s first Olympic medal in the men’s K1 since Campbell Walsh 12 years ago in Athens.

Clarke’s win came on one of the best days ever at any Olympics for Team GB, which notched up six medals to double their total at the Games to three gold, three silver and six bronze - on target for the 48 medals it hopes to bring home from Rio.

Broadbridge Heath namesake Joe Clarke became an internet sensation after he was mistaken for the gold medal winner. Click here for story.

Also striking gold were Harrogate’s Jack Laugher and Chris Mears, from Reading, now living in Leeds, who won the synchronised 3m diving.

Gymnast Max Whitlock, cyclist Chris Froome, judoka Sally Conway and shooter Steve Scott all earned bronze medals.

Clarke, from Stone, in Staffordshire, was cheered on by father Shaun, mother Mandy and around 20 family and friends who had travelled thousands of miles to watch him make history.

Clarke went from bronze to gold in minutes in Rio after going third-last in the final and recording the fastest time of 88.53 seconds.

World champ Jiri Prskavec and rival Jakub Grigar were quicker than him in the earlier semi-final, but both crumbled.

Afterwards Clarke and his supporters partied at a reception at British House, the UK’s official residence at Rio 2016, where Team GB’s performances are being celebrated by athletes, VIPs, stakeholders and sponsors.

Legendary British double gold athlete Dame Kelly Holmes congratulated him and she even tried on his medal.

He said her own 800 and 1,500 meters Olympic gold wins back in 1994 - the year he took up his own sport - had inspired him. He paid special tribute to the National Lottery and all who have bought tickets, with £80m of it a year supporting 1,300 Olympic and Paralympic athletes, including him.

Clarke added : “The National Lottery has enabled this to become a reality. It was a dream. The funding and support they have given me has enabled this to become a reality and I can’t thank them enough and everybody back home for playing the Lottery and making this happen.”

Andy Duncan, chief executive of Camelot, who run the National Lottery, also added his congratulations and added: “Ultimately everyone who buys a Lottery ticket is hoping to win a prize. But the other part is how money goes to good causes - a chunk of it to sport. So as for all the medals won here in Rio...if you’ve bought a Lottery ticket, you’ve made that happen.”

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