OLYMPIAN Jemma Lowe hopes London 2012 will inspire the next generation of youngsters in Hartlepool to reach for the stars.
The swimmer described her time at the Olympic Games as “amazing” despite narrowly missing out on a bronze for Team GB in the women’s 200m butterfly event.
The 23-year-old hopes more young people will take up sport and said it would be great to have even more Olympians from town in the future.
Jemma, speaking after receiving an Olympic Inspiration Award from civic leaders, said: “I think everybody was watching the Olympics and getting excited about it.
“I have spoken to many people who said they became addicted to watching the Olympics, which is great to hear and the event will definitely inspire people.
“I can’t imagine my life without swimming and to experience an Olympics in your home country was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“I’m really glad that I have had that experience and it is great for young people to take part in sport.
“It would be great to have even more Olympians from Hartlepool in the future.”
Jemma, who is now based in Swansea, received the award at the Civic Centre at a reception in front of councillors, council officers and her boyfriend Adam Mallett, 22, mum Janet, dad Mike and sister Naomi, 25.
The former pupil at High Tunstall College of Science, looked as though she was going to finish with a medal in the final of the women’s 200m butterfly event.
But a late rally from her competitors saw her finish in a commendable 6th position, with a time of 2.0680 minutes.
Jemma added: “The Olympic Village is the best place in the world and you are in this environment where people have the same goals as you.
“It is overwhelming to be surrounded by so many different athletes from different countries.
“All the food is free as well and you just feel so special, it is quite sad really when you have to leave.
“It was an amazing two weeks.”
Jemma was joined at the reception by other female sporting stars from town, including canoeist Bethan Kelly, 15, who took part in the recent Inspire photography exhibition.
Town boxer Savannah Marshall was unable to make the presentation but has also been formally recognised and will receive her glass award at a later date.
Labour councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, chair of Hartlepool Borough Council, thanked the pair for helping to put Hartlepool on the sporting map.
Coun Akers-Belcher added: “Everybody in this room has a commitment to make sure that the legacy beyond London 2012 is carried forward.
“We should be very proud as Hartlepudlians of the effort and commitment of Savannah and Jemma.”