ROWING: VAL Edwards rubbed shoulders with Britain's greatest Olympian after proving herself a fast learner.
The 43-year-old mum, who works in the reprographics department at Frodsham Science and Technology College, only took up rowing at Runcorn Rowing Club nine months ago.
But she returned from a national indoor championships with bronze to prove it is not only Sir Steve Redgrave who come home with medals.
And the sporting knight was among the first to congratulate Val on her success at the AXA PPP Healthcare British Indoor Rowing Championships, presenting her with the medal.
Val had raced to third place in a closely-contested women's 40-44 heavyweight category at the National Indoor Arena, Birmingham.
The event, in its 13th year, one of its biggest ever entries.
In front of a 7,000 crowd, Val clocked seven minutes 45.3 seconds over the 2,000m Olympic regatta distance on a Concept 2 Indoor Rower.
'It was fantastic to be up there with Sir Steve,' she said. 'It was the first time I have ever been on a podium and it was quite exciting.
'I only started rowing in March this year, mainly because my 15-year-old daughter Toni was doing it.'
Frodsham College has a strong connection with Run-corn Rowing Club as one of two schools - the other being Helsby High - to benefit from their Project Oarsome project.
Financed by the Amateur Rowing Association, the iniative is designed to attract more youngsters into the sport.
The college has five in-house rowing machines and, like Helsby, was allocated 10 free places at the national championships.
Nine pupils including Val's daughter Toni, who finished ninth, and 11-year-old son Sam joined Val in the Frodsham team. All achieved personal bests with Val beating her time by 20 secs.
Val, who lives in Frodsham, was one of several mums who were drawn into competing through the involvement of their children at Clifton Village. They formed a Ladies' Quad which won the Runcorn Head in October, albeit unopposed, and finished third at the Northwich Head, where Val teamed up with Heather Hatt in a double.
Sir Steve Redgrave, as patron of the Birmingham event, was among the 2,500-plus competitors as was another of our most-celebrated Olympic rowers James Cracknell.
Sir Steve said: 'This is an portunity for people of all ages and abilities to take part in a race alongside some of the country's finest athletes.'