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Riverland rises to greet hometown heroes -

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ELEANOR HALL: As Australians prepare to welcome home their Olympians, those in South Australia's
Riverland are particularly excited.

The region has had its biggest contingent of locals in any Olympic Games and that contingent
included Hayden Stoeckel who won a bronze medal in the 100-metres backstroke, and silver in the
men's four by 100-metre medley relay.

From the Riverland Alexandra Parry reports.

ALEXANDRA PARRY: For a region devastated by drought and financial strain, sport is a big source of
joy for the locals. Residents of Berri have been watching Hayden Stoeckel's every move. There are
several budding swimmers in the town, but they can only practice in summer when the outdoor pool is

Now, the local council is thinking about naming a new pool after the town's Olympic hero, Hayden
Stoeckel. Berri Mayor Peter Hunt says Stoeckel's achievements won't go unrecognised.

PETER HUNT: Anyone who can make an Olympics alone and also win two medals, it really is fantastic
and I'm sure he's going to be a role model for a lot of the kids around our area.

ALEXANDRA PARRY: When Hayden does eventually come back, how will he be welcomed?

PETER HUNT: We'll be looking at some type of reception, and what we'll do in the meantime though is
actually contact Hayden's mum and dad, Carol and Chris and just find out when he'll be back in
town. And then we'll go from there and try and organise a bit of a reception and whatever and work
out what else we can do for him.

ALEXANDRA PARRY: Now Hayden's known on the swimming team for having a relaxed attitude. He's
probably the least stressed out of all of them, listening to music before he races and things like
that. Do you think that sort of attitude is the common attitude of the Riverland?

PETER HUNT: I think so. But he's a nice lad, he comes from a lovely family so he's a bit like some
of them athletes, you hear them once they've won their medals, they're just so casual and it's just
fantastic to see, it really is.

(Sound of school yard)

ALEXANDRA PARRY: Down at Berri Primary School, the kids have been cheering on their favourite
swimming star during the past two weeks. Teacher Lynn Smith remembers Stoeckel as a tall blond boy
with far too much energy. But she's pleased to hear he's focused that energy into one thing, to
achieve his Olympic dream.

LYNN SMITH: He loved to be in the action and he was a nice kid. He loved his swimming and you know
he was encouraged by his mum and dad. You never know where they're going to go but it's been great
for our children to see that a local boy has done so well and that he's only got two arms and legs
like everyone else and has had to put in the work to get there.

ALEXANDRA PARRY: Stoeckel's little cousins Bowde and Renee Bayliss are beaming.

BOWDE BAYLISS: Excited, happy (laughs) yeah.

ALEXANDRA PARRY: You proud of him?


ALEXANDRA PARRY: What about mum and your auntie, what do they say?

BOWDE BAYLISS: Ah lots (laughs), mum's real loud when she watches him race but yeah.

ALEXANDRA PARRY: What do you want to say to him when he comes back to Berri?

RENEE BAYLISS: Congratulations.

ALEXANDRA PARRY: Stoeckel himself never dreamed he'd make it this far. The unlikely hero can't even
remember his first swimming teacher in Berri.

HAYDEN STOECKEL: I don't think I had swimming lessons. I just got in there and started paddling -
dog paddle or whatever I could to stay afloat. Yeah, I grew up around water all the time, always in
the river swimming or something.

ALEXANDRA PARRY: Stoeckel almost gave his swimming career away. While boarding at St Peters School
in Adelaide, his talent in the pool was unmistakable. However, the lure of nights out with the boys
was too strong in his teenage years and he decided to say goodbye to his sport.

HAYDEN STOECKEL: Being a teenager, you want to go out, have a good time and not worry about all the
training and everything. And I was down in school in Adelaide and just hanging out with the
boarders all the time and it was kind of hard to do swimming and board and go to school as well. So
I decided to give the swimming away and just become a regular school boy.

ALEXANDRA PARRY: You had a break and you had a good time - then what made you decide to take it up

HAYDEN STOECKEL: From the training, what I'd done and everything, just sort of thought I've got a
bit of a talent here and see if I can really put it to use and that. Also my parents sort of got
behind me and sort of said come on, maybe you can do something.

ALEXANDRA PARRY: Which he did and locals want to make sure his hard work, and that of his fellow
Olympians, is properly celebrated.

BERRI MAN: We'd have to give them a tickertape parade I reckon when they come home (laughs).

BERRI GIRL: Oh my god, that would be insane. I think it would give the Riverland a really good rap!

ELEANOR HALL: Some Berri locals there with Alexandra Parry in the Riverland.