Running legends have hailed Olympian Laura Weightman.
And her proud coach Steve Cram believes her success at London 2012 could inspire more youngsters to take up running.
Competing against the best in the world, the 21-year-old shone on the track to reach the women’s 1500m final.
Despite it being her first taste of the Olympics, the Lesbury athlete was not overawed by the occasion and even clocked a personal best along the way.
Keeping alive her London dream until the very end, the Morpeth Harrier came through a heat and semi-final, before finishing 11th in the final.
Her efforts have attracted praise from some of the biggest names in UK athletics history, including from Cram and Dame Kelly Holmes, who have four Olympic medals between them.
Cram, who has coached Laura for around three years, said: “She did fantastically well and I am really proud of her.
“Reaching the final was her gold medal if you like and I am delighted for her.
“I have known Laura since she was a youngster and I got involved with her to try to help her and try to fulfill her potential and that is what is happening thanks to her hard work and dedication.
“Hopefully, her success will lead to more youngsters going down to their local athletics clubs.”
He also believes Laura has the potential to taste plenty of glory on the track.
He said: “You can’t dictate how things will go but if she carries on getting stronger and quicker then she will just get better and better.
“She has got the credentials to do very well.”
Laura is part of On Camp with Kelly, a training and mentoring scheme set up by Dame Kelly Holmes.
Dame Kelly said: “I was very proud to watch Laura compete on the greatest stage of all, the Olympic Games, running a personal best and qualifying for the final of the women’s 1500m.
“Laura and her coach Steve Cram have worked extremely hard to reach this level and her performance here has elevated her to world class.
“I hope my Aviva-sponsored On Camp with Kelly programme has also had a part to play in Laura’s development as an athlete over the last five years. We are all very proud of her and she has a bright future ahead.”
Laura’s Olympic performance also won praise from current women’s world marathon record holder, Paula Radcliffe, who tweeted that her semi-final display was ‘awesome’.