Team GB gymnast Kristian Thomas honoured with reception

Crowd welcomes Kristian Thomas homes Kristian Thomas returned to the West Midlands with a bronze medal

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More than 200 people have welcomed home Olympic gymnast Kristian Thomas at a reception at his club.

The 23-year-old Team GB gymnast, of Wolverhampton, returned to Earls Gymnastics Club, Halesowen, after winning bronze in the London Olympics.

John Caulwell, club chairman, said he deserved a "hero's welcome".

Last week, Thomas described how he hoped his success would encourage more investment for the club, which has struggled for funding.

Mr Caulwell said: "It's the closest a lot of us will get to an Olympic medal and it's generated a lot of excitement at the club."

'An inspiration'

He described Thomas as the "kingpin" of the GB gymnastic team and said his achievements put the Black Country and the club "on the map".

Mr Caulwell, who has known Thomas for seven years, said seeing him develop had been an "inspiration", adding the gymnast was "someone our younger members can look up to because his dedication to training is second to none".

At the scene: Louise Hancock

More than 200 people cheered as Kristian Thomas travelled along Furnace Lane to the gym where he has trained since he was five years old.

Many of the crowd were locals, but some had travelled from as far as Staffordshire, braving the wet weather to get a glimpse of their hero.

Once the sun came out Kristian chatted to young fans, signed autographs and had his photograph taken with those not lucky enough to be invited to the evening's civic reception inside the club.

Lisa Godfrey, whose eight-year-old son Ben is part of the club's development squad, said watching Thomas train benefited the younger gymnasts.

Ben said he felt "special", training alongside the club's Olympic star.

He was met by the Mayor of Dudley Melvyn Mottram and Tracy Wood, Dudley Council's cabinet member for culture.

The gymnast was escorted into the club by Olympic torchbearer Chris Platts.

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