A BRITISH Paralympic medallist was reunited with her first coach – a servicewoman from RAF Marham – on the medal podium in London.
Sgt Ann Thomas has been working with the medal ceremony teams at the games, which end on Sunday, and carried in the Union flag for the ceremony in which her former charge Zoe Hewson collected her powerlifting bronze.
Ann, herself a former seven-time world champion, said: “It was fantastic to see how far she had come in the last few years and there was no shortage of encouragement from the ceremonial team backstage as well as the huge crowd out front.
“It was an incredible honour to raise the national flag for a GB athlete but even more special to know that I had a part in it.”
Ann first began coaching Zoe five years ago at the Suffolk Spartans disability powerlifting club, which caters or children with physical and learning difficulties.
She helped her win a string of national titles before RAF postings overseas ended the partnership in 2009.
But Zoe’s career continued to prosper as she won a world junior championship and competed at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
And, after she collected her medal in the women’s under-40kg category, there was an emotional reunion between the athlete, now 20, and her first coach behind the scenes at the Excel centre.
Ann said: “She thanked me for her success but I simply told her that it was all her and she deserved everything she had earned.”