Australia's Jacqueline Lawrence celebrates getting the silver after the final of the women's K1 kayak slalom at the Shunyi Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Park at the Beijing Games.
Australia's Jacqueline Lawrence celebrates getting the silver after the final of the women's K1 kayak slalom at the Shunyi Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Park at the Beijing Games. Northern Star

Silver rush hits Old Bonalbo

THANKS to Jacqui Lawrence's silver medal-winning performance at the Beijing Olympics on Friday night, Old Bonalbo residents are now joking that Byron Bay will become better known as the town 120km east of their's.

Lawrence's dream run in the K1 slalom event at the Games has put Old Bonalbo on the map.

The interest in the tiny town of about 90 residents has become so great that two television networks were falling over themselves to take footage on the family's property on Sunday.

Indeed, a family friend had to go over beforehand to clear the paddock so that the Channel Seven news chopper didn't make mincemeat out of the Lawrence's cows.

Much of the interest centred around the dam where Jacqui and her two other sisters, Kate and Rosalyn, trained on a series of practice gates set up by their father Laurie.

Members of the Big River Canoe Club were on hand to relive Lawrence's Olympic glory and talk about their own aspirations of competing for Australia.

Family spokesman Dave Whitney fielded international media inquiries on his mobile phone while working at the Bonalbo tip.

“The Old Bonalbo Progress Association is talking about putting signs up at both ends of town, saying 'This is the proud home of Olympic silver medallist Jacqui Lawrence',” Mr Whitney said.

The tiny community has been caught up in Lawrence's 'silver rush' since Friday and held a spontaneous morning tea for her on Saturday at the Old Bonalbo Primary School, where her mother Sarah works as a teacher.

Everyone dressed up in green and gold and made 'replica' silver medals to honour their hero.

Jacqui has been overwhelmed by the community's reaction and has promised to visit Old Bonalbo as soon as she can after flying home from the Games on August 25.

“I just want to thank them so much for their enthusiasm and support,” she told The Northern Star.

“They gave me so much support, even before the race, but without putting any pressure on me. It's just been amazing.”



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