EAST Lancashire's top Olympic heroes were given a rousing reception by thousands of football fans when they walked on to the pitch at Turf Moor.

Hammer thrower Sophie Hitchon, bronze medal winning canoeist Jonnie Schofield, gold medal winning cyclist Steven Burke and silver medallist Samantha Murray attended Burnley Football Club’s first match of the season against Bolton on Saturday.

They were greeted with applause from the 18,000-strong crowd.

Modern pentathlete Samantha Murray missed the parade before kick-off but joined her Team GB athletes for the the match.

It was the first public appearance in their home territory since the Olympics for Jonnie, from Sawley, Sophie, from Burnley and Samantha, from Clitheroe, and Steven, from Colne.

Darren Bentley, Burnley FC spokesman, said: “We gave the athletes the VIP treatment they deserved. We are very proud that athletes from East Lancashire won medals and took part in Olympic finals.

“The athletes have been acknowledged by the world and we wanted them to receive local appreciation from both Burnley and Bolton fans.

“It was an ideal kick-off to the season and their attendance made the day even more special.” The athletes were seen cheering for Burnley and came back on to do the half-time draw.

After the match, which saw Burnley beat Bolton 2-0, the athletes tweeted about their visit.

Jonnie said: “People were coming up to me saying ‘Thank you’.

“I feel like the lucky one because I got to compete and represent Team GB. Everyone at Turf Moor made us all feel very welcome.”

Steven, from Colne, tweeted: “Many thanks to @BurnleyOfficial for their hospitality today at the game vs Bolton.”

Samantha showed her homecoming excitement by tweeting: “Heading to the red rose county. First stop Turf Moor. #lancashirelove.”