Hunter back at the Boleyn

Mark Hunter paid a visit to the Boleyn Ground to show off his London 2012 silver medal and catch up on some of the fantastic work West Ham United have been doing with local youngsters.

Hunter was one of the stars of the games; following up his gold in Beijing in 2008 with a silver in the lightweight double sculls. After a dramatic final, Hunter and partner Zac Purchase had to settle for second after being narrowly pipped at the post by Denmark, a result that, in time at least, Hunter will be rightly proud of.

"We kind of went there to win that's what we're about and we did everything we possibly could and left nothing in the tank, I've got no regrets about the way we tried to race or train but the aim for us was to win, so we're obviously going to be a little disappointed.

"However in months to come I'm sure I will look back and feel that having a medal from a home Olympics is something very special, and I'm very grateful I have two Olympics medals now.

"We like to lead from the word go, start flat out and leave nothing to chance, that's the way we race and to give anything other than our absolute best is shunning the gift we have as an elite athlete.

"Obviously not getting the medal we wanted was tough as I wanted to be stood on the podium hearing our national anthem, so it's very hard to deal with at the moment."

The lifelong Hammers fan is now planning to take a break from rowing for six months while he ponders his next career move. Hunter explained he is planning to use the period  to offer something back to the local community by supporting the excellent work the West Ham United Community Sports Trust does throughout east London.

"We need to get kids to realise that we are just normal people, we went to school, had the same experiences and tried things for ourselves. It's hard because they see us on TV but we used to be like that - we watched it and were captured by the magic of the Olympics and that's what brought us to where we are today.

"Being from the east end and being able to come back and compete at a home games where I grew up was very special. To see the buzz around the place was phenomenal, and I just hope the excitement can continue now with the legacy that follows.

Mark Hunter - Community event

"At the event I was playing tennis with the kids and although it's not my sport it's great to spend time with them and chat about their experiences whilst watching the Olympics. I think that it's really important that athletes get out there now and make a difference.

"We went to a talk with David Cameron the other day and he said that after the Olympics athletes are like gold dust now, and he feels it's important us to get into schools and the community and sprinkle that gold dust."

Hunter will be a welcome visitor at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday when Big Sam's side kick-off their Barclays Premier League return against Aston Villa. The 34-year-old feels very much part of the group after he was spurred on ahead of his final by a warming video of support from the West Ham United squad, led by manager Sam Allardyce and captain Kevin Nolan.

"I was made up with the good luck video the club sent me, so the event is my chance to once again give something back to a club that has given so much to me, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the team back in the Premier League.

"Coming in last season was a dream come true. All the fans sit on the terraces have their view but to be able to come in and give something back was very special and I'm exceptionally pleased that the relationship has continued."

Moore Than a Football Club