Heather Stanning win cheered on by Army colleagues

Olympic win inspires Army troops in Wiltshire

Army colleagues of Yeovil-born rower Heather Stanning have described their reaction to her gold win as one of "overwhelming joy".

Stanning is a captain in the Royal Artillery but has put her career on hold so she can train full time.

Her Army friends at Larkhill Camp in Wiltshire and in Afghanistan cheered on Stanning and rowing partner Helen Glover as they took gold in the women's pair.

Staff Sergeant Kerry Roberts said: "It's overwhelming joy for her, it's been coming for years with all the hard work and practice she's been giving."

'Best in world'

"It's just fantastic, not just for her but for the boys in Afghanistan as well.

"You could tell from the start that the focus was there, all the commitment, all the training, everything was there, the pair of them have gone out and proved that they are the best in the world," he added.

Their achievement has also been hailed by the Army.

Heather Stanning and Helen Glover Heather Stanning and her rowing team mate Helen Glover celebrate their historic Olympic win

Commander Land Forces, Gen Sir Nick Parker, said: "It is fantastic that Heather and Helen have won Olympic gold today.

"It is a magnificent result and a testament to their hard work over the last few years."

Her commanding officer Lt Col Craig Palmer, of the Royal Artillery, said: "Soldiers from 32nd Regiment Royal Artillery were thrilled to watch the race from their bases in Afghanistan, while their friends and families watched it here in the UK.

"I am sure that they have been inspired by her performance and we look forward to welcoming her back to the regiment later this year.

"I know that she is keen to deploy with her soldiers to Helmand in 2013."

With her team-mate Helen Glover, from Cornwall they have also made history by winning Britain's first-ever gold medal in women's rowing.

'Huge smile'

After taking silver at last year's World Championships behind New Zealand, Glover and Stanning won all three World Cup races this season and set an Olympic record in their heat.

Glover's links with the West Country included teaching PE at Oldfield School in Bath and studying at Millfield School in Somerset.

Glover is also a member of the Minerva Rowing Club in Bath.

Deb Gabb, Glover's "house parent" at Millfield School, said: "She made me cry because she was crying.

"You just had to watch her face - it was absolutely brilliant. She is a lovely girl and we are all dead chuffed for her.

"She deserves it because she always gives her all in everything she does."

Stanning, who was born in Somerset, spent her teenage years in Scotland where she studied at Gordonstoun School in Moray.

Richard Devey, Stanning's PE teacher, said: "Heather was a very powerful all-round, natural athlete and games player. She was very hard-working and always had a huge smile on her face.

"She still holds some school athletics records. As well as being a superb athlete, Heather was guardian (head girl) in her last year at school and was a very valuable member of the school's fire service.

"It is no surprise to me that she has done so well at the Olympics. She was always destined to go far in the sporting world."

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