WHEN Alan Campbell crossed the finish line his parents, William and Jennifer, had smiles as broad as the River Bann.
And rightly so for they have supported their son all the way on his incredible journey to Olympic glory.
“We can’t believe it. He was up against the big guns today and now he is one of the big guns. Fantastic,” said dad just after the race.
“He felt confident that he was a medal winner today, and I’m just so delighted,” added mum.
“It was a gutsy, gutsy performance. I just screamed the whole way, I just willed him on. I told the crowd that we could do this and I think we’ve done it.”
Jennifer revealed Alan had sent them a message on Thursday night which showed what was driving him on.
“Alan sent us a text the night before and it simply said ‘Love you both, Alan’. That tells you the family, it tells you the support and what drives him.
“We often wondered what drives him and I think it’s just that. He has so much love, and Jules would confirm that, he has so much love for the people that are close to him.”
It was a thrilling climax to the single sculls final and Jennifer was doing her best to cheer her son home, along with a partisan home support at Eton Dorney.
“I was shouting from about 400 metres to go,” she said.
“This is what Alan had hoped for and he told us he could do this, so we had enough faith in him.”
She said he spent the winter running on the beach at Portrush, and only took one day off a month.
“He’s had to work really hard. He’s been out there on Christmas morning when he reckons the others are not training.
“He said that would make the difference between being a medallist and not, and so it proved,” she added.
Mrs Campbell added that her son had been inspired by the support he received from Coleraine.
“It means a lot to Alan because he’s such a Northern Ireland guy.
“He’s so passionate about his home town and they’re so passionate about him.”
In paying tribute to Alan’s success, she added: “It’s something he’s achieved. It’s a God-given talent and he’s used it to the very best of his ability.”
Among the first to congratulate Alan were the first and deputy first ministers Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness who praised his “tremendous achievement”.
“Alan has made us all proud and I offer my heartfelt congratulations to him on his performance,” said Mr Robinson.
“He showed tremendous resilience and character in the closing stages of the race to secure his bronze medal and following on from the events of yesterday he has made it another great day for Coleraine and for Northern Ireland.”
“The many years of training and discipline have paid off for Alan. He is an inspiration for our young people and, along with the Chambers’ brothers, a credit to the many people involved with Bann Rowing Club in Coleraine. I congratulate him on his great success,” added Mr McGuinness.
DUP East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said Coleraine was “overflowing with pride” following Alan’s medal success.
“This is a fantastic achievement for Alan, his family, the Bann Rowing Club, the people of Coleraine and all of Northern Ireland.
“The sheer determination was visible on Alan’s face throughout the race. Those early mornings and many hours of training paid dividend. This medal is a reward for the hard work and dedication.
The local MP also paid tribute to the Chambers brothers’ success in the lightweight men’s competition.
“London 2012 has put Coleraine on the Olympic map with three 2012 Olympic medallists from the town.
“Alan’s Olympic success came on the back of Richard and Peter Chambers’ silver medal successes on Thursday in the lightweight men’s competition. I can assure Alan, Richard and Peter that the town was behind them all the way and is immensely proud of these historic medal achievements.
“The achievements of these young men will leave a legacy in Coleraine which will inspire future generations to follow their example and bring home more Olympic medals,” he added.
Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said Alan Campbell had shown “a terrific effort” to clinch the medal which “he truly deserves after another exciting, tense and hard fought final”.
“Along with the Chambers brothers, Alan joins the ranks of our local medal winning Olympians who have worked hard for their success. Their achievements will never be forgotten and I thank them for the joy and inspiration they have given all of us through these games over the last number of days.”