SOUTH Gloucestershire is celebrating a new Olympic hero, Jenny Jones, who claimed Great Britain’s first ever medal on snow at the weekend.

Dignitaries and former school teachers have been lining up to congratulate the Downend snowboarder, who took bronze in the women’s slopestyle event at the Winter Olympics in Sochi on Sunday.

Chairman of South Gloucestershire Council, Cllr Ian Boulton (Lab, Staple Hill) tweeted a message.

Congratulations to Downend girl @jennyjonessnow from all of us in South Glos. #sochiwin — Ian Boulton (@IanBoulton) February 9, 2014

Cllr Boulton told the Gazette: "I'm sure everyone in Downend, South Gloucestershire and the greater Bristol region is extremely proud that Jenny comes from our area.

“I hope that we will all want to welcome her home with the sort of celebration she deserves for her historic achievement."

South Gloucestershire Council said it would be holding an event in honour of her achievement.
A spokesman said: "Jenny’s Olympic bronze is a fantastic achievement and we will be writing to formally congratulate her and invite her to a civic event in South Gloucestershire to mark her success.

"We will also be contacting the Post Office to request that a postbox in her home area of Downend be painted bronze in recognition of her achievement."

Dr Rob Gibson, chief executive principal at Winterbourne International Academy, formerly The Ridings High School where Jenny went to school, said: "I would like to congratulate Jenny on her outstanding success.

“Sporting achievement has always played a key role in both The Ridings High School, and now The Ridings' Federation.

“We are all very proud of how well Jenny has represented our region and the country."

Her former PE teacher at the academy, Patricia Lewis, said: "Jenny was always willing to give anything a go and always had a smile on her face. She was a natural sportswoman with great determination.

“I've been following her progress and it was very nervous and exciting watching the results.”

Academy principal Rob Evans added: "Watching Jenny compete on Sunday morning was an exciting and nerve wracking experience. I am sure Jenny's success in the slopestyle at the Sochi Winter Olympics in winning a bronze medal will be an inspiration to all of our students.

"At school Jenny was a very good athlete and gymnast and we have followed her career with great interest over the past years. Our best wishes go to Jenny on this outstanding achievement."

South Gloucestershire and Stroud College, formerly Filton College where Jenny studied, wrote congratulated her on Facebook.

Bristol ice skater and Olympic gold medallist Robin Cousins tweeted his congratulations.

Bristol is busting with pride right now @jennyjonessnow and I've got a big smile on my face @TeamGB #waytogomyluvver

— Robin Cousins (@TheRobinCousins) February 9, 2014

Jenny was born in Downend in 1980. Her earliest sporting achievements include competing in the 400m, long jump, cross country and gymnastics at school. She only took up skiing at the age of 17 when a dry ski slope in Somerset offered free lessons.

She later learned at Gloucester dry ski slope and then worked as a chalet maid in Tignes, France where she fell in love with snowboarding. She then spent the winter training and the summer surfing in Devon and Cornwall.

Jenny has been competing since 1999 when she won the British Championships and became the first British athlete to win a gold medal at the Winter X games in 2009. Reaching the Olympics has been a long road though, having funded her career through a number of part-time jobs from inspecting cardboard in a factory to teaching fencing to children.

After winning her historic medal, Jenny, the oldest to compete in her category by six years, said: "I can't believe it. I'm just so happy right now.

"I feel so proud to get on the podium. A few said 'is she past it?' but I did what I could and, thankfully, it got me on there."

Her parents Peter and Helen, who live in Downend, surprised their daughter live on television by travelling to Russia to meet her on the slopes.