SOUTH Tyneside’s winter Olympian was given a warm welcome back to the borough by loved ones at a surprise homecoming party.
Biathlete Amanda Lightfoot was taken aback to discover that a party had been thrown in her honour at the Sanddancer pub in South Shields.
The 27-year-old arrived back in South Shields earlier in the week after competing in two biathlon races, combining skiing and shooting, at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Her mum, Maureen Lightfoot, 65, organised the bash with help from Amanda’s best pal, Hayley Thomson,
The 65-year-old said: “It was wonderful, and somehow we managed to keep it a surprise too.
“Amanda was genuinely shocked and she burst into tears when she saw us all.
“It was lovely that she had the chance to spend a bit of time with family and friends before she’s off training again.”
Amanda had spent the day at a gym with her pal, before heading to a hairdresser’s and getting a small tattoo of the Olympic rings on her neck.
She was delighted by the surprise celebration, saying: “I had no idea they had planned this. I thought I was just going for a meal with Hayley and her family.
“When I walked into the pub and saw everyone, I couldn’t believe it.
“I was so thrilled, especially to see my nieces as I hadn’t had a chance to spend any time with them yet. It was brilliant.” During the games, Amanda finished 75th in a 7.5km sprint with a time of 24 minutes and 48.9 seconds.
That was followed by a 71st-place finish during the 15km women’s individual event,
Today, Amanda will be rejoining the rest of her team-mates in Germany before heading to the Biathlon World Cup in Slovenia later in the week.
She said: “I had a couple of drinks at the party, but it didn’t go on too late.
“I was up for a jog early the next morning as I’m still in training.”