WHEN Ed Clancy returned home just a few days after Olympic glory there was no fanfare, parties or banner waving.
In fact for a man who is now a double Olympic champion it was remarkably low key.
Steadily though, the proud neighbours that have got to know the young Yorkshireman in the six years he has lived in Newton-le-Willows began knocking on his front door, eager to pass on their congratulations.
The cyclist was swift to offer the hand of friendship in return, welcoming them in to show the gold medal he earned for leading the track quartet to victory in the men’s team pursuit and the bronze for the gruelling multi-event omnium. When the Star arrived the following morning, we were extended just as warm a welcome.
Laid out on the coffee table at the centre of his living room is the Union flag he collected during his victory celebrations in the Velodrome.
Resting upon that are the gleaming medals (along with the gold he also claimed in Beijing), an unopened bottle of champagne, and congratulations cards exalting his victory.
Sitting opposite is a young man whose head is still spinning from the glorious Games.
The 27-year-old has gone from the manic pressure and intense discipline of pre-London 2012, to experiencing the roars and drama of the Velodrome, the euphoria and relief of success, a media frenzy and some serious partying in the Olympic Village.
But what strikes you about Clancy though is simply how down to earth he is, perhaps the endearing quality that has won so many of Team GB’s heroes a place in the nation’s hearts.
He describes the journey he went on over a couple of wonderful weeks as “nuts”.
But for a man who has just become a double Olympic champion there is no loss of perspective or humility.
“Look how I live - I’m just a normal person, with a normal car and a normal house,” he says.]
“I’m working class lad and think the public can relate to that and I’m from a sport like cycling that is accessible to anyone.
“I started riding bikes for fun as a kid - pulling wheelies on a BMX. It was not until 16, or 17 until I started taking things seriously. As a junior I was pretty average.”
If he truly was mediocre, then it’s a lesson to youngsters out there about where dedication, mental strength and having the right team can take you.
Let’s not forget Clancy and his three colleagues twice smashed their own world record within the arena that become known as ‘The Pringle’ because of the curved roof, designed by a Haydock-based steel specialists Kalzip.
What was the secret to those super fast times? “Mind management” he replies.
Clancy worked intensely with sports psychologists ahead of what he knew would be the most pressurised environment of his life so that when it came to the crunch, any self doubt and “what ifs” were replaced by an ice cool focus on his technique and lap times.
For the time being though, it is about enjoyment. The champagne that he sipped over the past week was the first alcohol he had tasted since March and the rigid diet has been temporarily relaxed.
No doubt, away from the delirium of London, there will be some relaxing in Newton, a place he is happy to call home.
“I keep a pretty low profile around here. But I’ve lived here for six years now. I bought this place when I had little money, it’s got me on the ladder and is great for the commute to Manchester (where the cycling team train).
“I come from Huddersfield but I do have friends here now. I did feel bad for the people of Newton that they didn’t put the gold postbox here but I hear there is a push to get one, which is awesome.
“It would really kick ass if they put one in Newton or St Helens.”
Clancy buys into the Olympics offering a legacy too.
He added. “I’m proud to support Great Britain – not even just racing, if it helps people get on their bikes it is good for people’s health and good for the environment too.
“People ask you to do things – like will you sign this for kids and perhaps you don’t think it means anything at the time.
“Then a few weeks later you get a three page letter back from people saying how grateful they are and say they are following your every move.
“It makes you feel proud to know you winning makes other people happy."
“The team pursuit gold medal was the big one – the one I really wanted.
“It was an awesome stadium too. To think it was a Haydock firm behind the roof is pretty cool.
"The noise was like being in a football stadium when Rooney scores a goal – but it was like that all through the race...and because the roof was so low when you came out your ears were ringing – like when you fall out of a nightclub.”