THE mum of East Lancashire Olympic hero Steven Burke has told of her pride and said: “I can’t wait to give him a big hug!”
Steven, 20, from Colne, won a shock bronze medal in the individual cycling pursuit in Beijing on Saturday.
But his parents Alvin and Sharon, brother Nathan, 17, sister Zoe, 14, and grandparents Brian and Mary Wesson were not in China to see it.
They hadn’t expected Steven to be at the Olym-pics and were in Bulgaria on a family holiday which was booked before his shock call-up.
Sharon, who cycled for Great Britain in the 1980s, said: “It’s hard to put into words how we feel, especially when he wasn’t even down for that event.
“His training in the team pursuit will have served him well for this, even though he hasn’t competed in the individuals for over a year.
“I spoke to him on the phone and he’s delighted.
“None of us have come down off cloud nine yet. I can’t wait to see him and give him a big hug!”
Alvin added: “We booked the holiday before we had any idea he was going to Beijing.
“It’s just one of those things, but we watched him live on the television and it was a really emotional moment for us all. We are always with him, no matter where we are in the world.”
Civic leaders in Pendle said they were planning a special event to celebrate when Steven returns.
Steven, a former pupil of Park Primary School, Park High School, and Nelson and Colne College, only took up cycling at the age of 14.
He was football mad as a youngster and played for the Foulridge Minors junior team.
But his family persuaded him to swap his soccer boots for pedal power and he has never looked back.
He joined the Manch-ester-based Sports City Velo Club and racked up a number of junior titles.
Proud grandad Vinnie Burke, 74, who was celebrating with friends at the Royal British Legion Club, Keighley Road, Colne yesterday, said: “He had something special about him from when he first started.
“I was on the edge of my seat watching him, and now I’m the proudest man in Colne.
“I know he’s going to make me even prouder in 2012.”
Next-door neighbour Tracey Whilden, who worked with Steven’s mum as dinner ladies at Park Primary School when he attended there, said: “He has done Colne proud, but he’s a shy and modest lad.
“He’s never one to big himself up.
“Sharon and Alvin have given up a lot to get him to all the tournaments with all the right equipment.
“Just a tyre on one of his bikes can cost nearly £1,000.
“But the whole family’s hard work has paid off.”
Pendle Council leader John David, and Mayor of Pendle Shelagh Derwent, said they would campaign for an event to celebrate the star’s return to Britain.
Coun David said: “I have already e-mailed Steven to congratulate him. We are all very proud of his splendid achievement.”
Coun Derwent added: “I was so excited watching him on television. It was a fantastic effort and he thoroughly deserved it.”
President of British Cycling and executive director for regeneration at Pendle Council, Brian Cookson, said: “We have known him since he was a promising youngster, but if you had said to me a few weeks ago he would have an Olympic medal, I would have said no chance.
“He is one we will be hearing of in the future and, hopefully, he will bring some more medals back to Pendle.”