Story courtesy of Brendon Egan, Southland Times
Waihopai School teacher Gwenyth Anderson was lost for words after being presented with Eddie Dawkins' ceremonial scarf from the Commonwealth Games.
The Southland track cycling star – who won silver in the team sprint and bronze in the kilo in Delhi – made a surprise visit to his old primary school yesterday.
Dawkins was worshipped by pupils at the school and caught up with his room 6 teacher, Mrs Anderson, to whom he gave his Commonwealth Games medal-winning ceremonial chanderi scarf.
Mrs Anderson was Dawkins' "favourite teacher" at school and he said she had always been one of his biggest supporters.
"She was there at the start and easily my most favourite teacher. It's always good to come back and get a warm reception."
Mrs Anderson and her class were reading a Southland Times article about Dawkins when he turned up without warning at their classroom yesterday. She admitted to being blown away by his kind gesture.
"Words cannot explain the honour of receiving it. It hasn't really sunk in.
"I'm so appreciative of this scarf. I saw him get it around his neck at the Games and thought how amazing it was that he had achieved that."
She watched all of Dawkins' races on television in Delhi and confessed to jumping around the house and yelling loudly while he was competing.
Mrs Anderson nicknamed Dawkins "Eddie the Eagle" when he was in her classroom as a 10-year-old and said the future cycling star was a pleasure to teach.
"He was a delightful boy with lots of warmth and personality. Even then he was a real team player.
"He was a really caring boy, who worked really hard academically and was a good all-rounder."
Dawkins was a fine example to Southland youngsters about what could be accomplished if they had a dream and worked hard for it, she said.
"They realise they can achieve in any area they have a strength in, if they put their mind to it. If you focus and make aims, you can achieve."