HE won an Olympic gold medal, smashed a world record and stood on top of the podium in front of a partisan British crowd.

But it wasn’t until cycling ace Steven Burke returned to East Lancashire to a euphoric Colne greeting that the realisation of what had just been achieved finally hit home.

From receiving a standing ovation in the Duke of Lancaster pub, in Church Street, to being beeped and cheered by passers-by as he patiently posed in front of the commemorative gold postbox in town for the waiting press, the ‘Colne Cyclone’ has been left stunned by the wave of public feeling.

“I am just overjoyed – it was the best day of my life,” he said.

“I am just so thankful of my teammates and everyone that got me there – my family, friends, the backroom staff at Great Britain cycling team.

“I am still in a bit of shock to be honest, but I am dead happy. It only really sunk in what we had done when I came home.

“Everyone in Colne is so overjoyed for me, it has just been madness. I really appreciate it.

“We had a quiet day together, my family and friends, at the Duke of Lancaster, and as soon as I walked in everyone was clapping me. It is so brilliant. I can’t quite believe it.

“It has been a whirlwind. It hit home the reception I got in Colne though. It has been bizarre.”

For Steven, a shy unassuming 24-year-old born and bred in Colne, his life will probably never be the same again.

He even describes meeting his Manchester United hero Ryan Giggs in the Olympic village as a ‘special moment’ and admits nothing will ever match his London 2012 experience. He said: “Team pursuit has been my life. Myself and my teammates have worked so hard for it and wanted it so badly. Everything I worked for has come off and it is a surreal feeling now. It is just an incredible feeling and the atmosphere was euphoric. It was brilliant.

“I have thought about London 2012 every day since Beijing. I was fifth man for the team pursuit last time, and since then I really wanted gold badly.

“Standing on the podium was also brilliant. It cannot get any better than doing this at your home Games.

“I just have to try to win another gold medal in the team pursuit in Rio and hopefully beat the 3m 50 barrier.

“That was the one day I will never forget, though. It can’t get better. It was incredible.”

Far more comfortable on his bike than in the glare of the national spotlight, Steven, along with teammates Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas and Peter Kennaugh, is already eyeing up a golden repeat in Rio.

Not before a well-earned rest though after hours of gruelling training in all conditions were handsomely rewarded.

“The next focus is the World Championships next year,” he said.

“But first I am going to have a couple of holidays.”