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Golden welcome for golden boy

Simon Ammann held up high by the two local wrestling champions on his return to Toggenburg on Sunday Keystone

Switzerland's double gold medal winner, Simon Ammann, has returned to an amazing welcome in his home in Toggenburg.

This content was published on February 24, 2002 - 20:38

The ski jumper, who won both the normal and large hill disciplines in Salt Lake City, arrived at Zurich airport on Sunday morning, where he was welcomed by a sea of Swiss flags, clanging cow bells and rapturous applause.

"I did not expect so many people to be here today," he said in front of a cheering crowd.

The 20-year-old, who has been described as "Harry Potter" for his schoolboy face and dark-rimmed glasses, took a special "Golden Express" to his home in Toggenburg in Eastern Switzerland.

On his journey to Nesslau in canton St Gallen, he passed hundreds of people lining the railway tracks to welcome their local hero with huge banners.

Big party

On his arrival the local orchestra surprised him with an especially composed "Simon Ammann March" and his home village Unterwasser had organised a big party in his honour.

Together with his parents and the entire Swiss ski jumping team, the "golden boy" was taken to the party venue by a five-horsed coach. Cheering fans continuously stopped the coach to congratulate the champion.

Two local wrestling champions carried Ammann, who weighs a mere 52 kilos, into the hall in "flying position". He told reporters he was overwhelmed by this unexpected reception, however, he was already looking forward to going to Finland for the next competition.

After the speeches and songs were over, "Simi" was overwhelmed once again - this time with presents. Amongst other things he was given a "flying wooden clock" and a car.

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