LIZ Johnson was given the honour of laying the final tile at the Aquatics Centre in London last year and the roar of the patriotic crowd nearly brought the house down as she won Paralympic bronze there tonight.
The 26-year-old Newport swimmer, who has cerebral palsy, was defending the SB6 100m breaststroke title she won in Beijing four years ago.
And she now has the full set of medals having won silver in the same event in Athens in 2004.
She finished third behind teammate Charlotte Henshaw, who took silver, and the 14-year-old Ukranian gold medal winner Viktoriia Savtsova.
Having missed out on a medal in the SM6 200m individual medley on Monday, this was Johnson’s first success since she won bronze at the 2010 World Championships and she was pleased to match that in London.
“We all came here wanting to win but if you can’t win then it’s nice to get the bronze medal because at least you’ve got something,” she said.
“I’m definitely glad that I’ve won a medal in front of a home crowd and been able to share that whole experience with them.
“The morning was really even. I thought I had more tonight and I don’t know what happened.
“But I guess after missing out on qualifying I’m just glad that they put faith in me and Charlotte and we both repaid that.
“I’m not distraught because I know that six months ago I wasn’t even in with a chance of getting a medal and I know I gave it everything.”
Johnson has had a high-profile Paralympics after also being chosen to read out the athletes’ oath at the opening ceremony last week.
“This Games has been memorable in so many ways for me and I’m just grateful that I’ve been able to share it with the crowd,” she added.
“With that and the tile and reading the oath it’s been amazing for me and I’m just glad I’m coming away with a bronze medal.”
Johnson is already planning for life out of the pool by training in accountancy but she knows her worth in the sport and says she will carry on competing for the time being.
“This is what I love doing,” she said. “Swimming means a lot to me and the race was so close I could easily win gold if we went again tomorrow so at the moment I want to carry on.
“I would say I will be at Rio but four years is a long time so I’ll have to take it one year at a time.”