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OLYMPIC hero Jade Jones may see the leisure centre where she took her first taekwondo lesson renamed in her honour.

The champion's hometown of Flint was buzzing with celebration yesterday, as Royal Mail got to work painting a postbox on Church Street gold.

Plans to welcome the victorious 19-year-old home with a huge party are being hatched and community leaders say they are keen to do something to honour her achievements.

Flintshire council leader Aaron Shotton is hoping to arrange to have the newly-refurbished Flint Pavilion, where Jade took the first steps on her path to glory, named after her.

He said: "It is a huge achievement at such a young age. We are delighted for her and her family. Jade is such an inspiration and we are so proud that she comes from Flintshire."

Flint Town Council leader Ian Roberts said the renaming would be a fitting tribute.

He added: "We want to do all we can to recognise this fabulous achievement. We are also hoping to hold an open top bus parade through the town, followed by a civic reception for Jade at the town hall.

"She really has put Flint on the map. It is the best tourist attraction I have ever seen for the town. I have spoken with Aaron Shotton and the council's deputy leader, Bernie Attridge, who are keen to press ahead with the plans to rename the Pavilion, with Jade's permission.

"We will hopefully see a paper officially presented to the cabinet in the coming weeks to make it a reality."

Calls have also been made to paint the 'Flint Foot' - a landmark sculpture outside the railway station - gold, and hundreds of people have backed an online campaign on Facebook.

Residents were still in celebratory mode yesterday, with dozens rushing out to get their gold medal souvenir stamps, printed by Royal Mail for every Olympic champion.

Amy Cost, 19, from Cornist was among those in the queue at Church Street post office.

She said: "I really wanted to get hold of some stamps for a keepsake and I was worried there would be none left.

"But I managed to buy six and I am hoping to get some more later. The whole town is buzzing.

It's a massive thing for a small town like Flint and what Jade has achieved is amazing.

"It gives young people in the town something to aspire to and someone to look up to.

"I have watched all Jade's performances and my whole family was on the edge of their seat for the final. To see her win was just amazing. Everyone is so proud."

Lynne Leigh, licensee at Flint Sports and Social Club, said the bar was so packed with supporters on Thursday evening that she was left with no drink the next morning. It was absolutely packed out from about 9.30pm," she added.

"I think we sold more than 1,000 pints of lager and 700 of bitter, which is incredible.

"The atmosphere was just electric. I've never experienced anything like it before. Everyone is just so happy and so proud of Jade.

"My son is the same age as her and they grew up together. The town of Flint also came together to raise cash to put Jade through the Youth Olympics, so to see her achieve something as great as this is absolutely fantastic."

Pam McClean, headteacher at Flint High School, was at the ExCeL to watch her former pupil win gold.

She said: "It was incredible to be there to watch Jade become the first British athlete to win gold in Taekwondo.

"Jade is an inspiration to all the youngsters in Flint and throughout Flintshire.

"Through all her fights she had such focus and kept her nerve. To beat a world champion in the sport is also an incredible achievement.

"What singles Jade out is her determination to win. She is so modest about her talent, which is remarkable. We are absolutely delighted for her and her lovely family, who have supported her all the way."

Business owners were also doing their bit to honour the champion yesterday.

Tony Lovatt, owner of Lovatt's Butchers where Jade's mum Jayne works, has put a special new sausage on the menu called 'Jade Gold Pork'.

He said: "So many people have been coming in to ask for them. I wanted to do something to celebrate."

And Chris Eagles, owner of Sandwiched food shop on Church Street, has even named a sandwich called Jade Thai Chicken.

Jade is expected to return to Flint on Sunday evening, and will be greeted by fans.

NOW SPORTS CENTRE WHERE IT ALL BEGAN COULD BE NAMED AFTER HER I just had to win it for my fans at home JUBILANT Jade Jones praised the support from her hometown and said she can't wait to take her gold medal back to Flint.

The 19-year-old who secured Team GB's 25th Gold medal at London 2012 in a tense fight on Thursday night, revealed she'd made a vow not to be beaten in front of her home crowd.

And she was still pinching herself to check her dream really had come true, after waking from only an hour's sleep yesterday morning.

Jade, who was first taken to taekwondo lessons at Flint Pavilion aged eight by her grandad, Martin Foulkes, said: "I'm still in a bit of a daze. It still doesn't feel real.

"I woke up this morning and looked at the side of the bed to see if it (gold medal) was still there."

Hats off to her: Jade wins gold On the support she has received from Flintshire - and particularly Flint Sports and Social Club, who showed her fights on a big screen - Jade said: "It has been just amazing.

"I'm just glad that I won and made everyone proud. I've heard it's crazy back home and I've there's a gold post box been painted already.

She added: "Coming from such a little town in Flint the support has been amazing and everyone has been behind me so much. They gave me like an Olympic send-off and so many people turned up, I just couldn't believe it.

"I'm just so happy to be going back with this so everyone's proud of me. I can't wait to get back to Flint now to be honest."

The youngster also praised the backing from her grandfather.

"He's been driving me to Manchester for training four times a week after work, driving me all over the country. His dedication has meant so much."

Jade, who won the Youth Olympic crown in Singapore two years ago, added: "I have been dreaming about this. Four years ago, I watched Sarah Stevenson win a bronze medal on the telly, and ever since I have wanted to go to the Olympics.

"I have been getting up at six in the morning to do extra training with my coach, who has been amazing. It is just overwhelming to have finally got it - it shows dreams can come true.

"It was such an amazing experience and I am so glad my family were all here to see it." The youngster's dad, Gary, said he almost fainted when his daughter claimed gold. He said: "I am so happy. I was so scared and so nervous, I nearly fainted. I was in shock - I'm still in shock. She was the first Briton to win the Youth Olympics and now she has come to London and won. When she wants something she will take it.

"I am so drained watching what she has achieved. I can't imagine how she must feel.

"You know what? I can't wait to see the post box in Flint painted gold for my daughter - it's crackers."


Hats off to her: Jade wins gold High hopes: Jade Jones was already a champion at the age of nine Games for a party: Friends and family celebrate in Flint yesterday Stamp of approval: Royal Mail mark 19-year-old Jade's victory
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 11, 2012
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