Gold medallist rower cheered on by army colleagues

Not content with just providing the security for the London Olympics, the army have also provided the first gold medal winner for the country. Captain Heather Stanning, as she is known by all her colleagues serves in 32nd Regiment, the Royal Artillery, and many of her colleagues who are currently serving in Afghanistan eagerly watched their co-worker race to victory.

Captain Stanning was excused the current tour as part of her two-year sabbatical from the military to focus on trying to win a medal in the coxless pair. And within an hour of the victory, some of the army's most senior officers had congratulated her, and Stanning had made a point of thanking the troops who have been supporting her from Camp Bastion in Helmand.

"Thanks for all the support. I know you have been watching and supporting me all along and I am proud to be associated with you and hope to see you all when you get home," she said shortly after getting out of her boat.

Stanning was commissioned in the Royal Artillery from Sandhurst four years ago, but served only 18 months as a troop commander before she put her army career on hold to concentrate on rowing.

General Sir Nick Parker, commander of UK land forces, said: "It is fantastic that Heather and Helen have won Olympic gold. It is a magnificent result and a testament to their hard work over the last few years. I have no doubt that soldiers across the globe will be sharing in her success today."

Her commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Craig Palmer, added: "Soldiers from 32nd Regiment Royal Artillery were thrilled to watch the race from their bases in Afghanistan. I am sure that they have been inspired by her performance and we look forward to welcoming her back to the regiment later this year. I know that she is keen to deploy with her soldiers to Helmand in 2013."

Stanning will return to the army next month, and she said of her employers, "The army have been absolutely fantastic at supporting me and giving me time off while it has clearly been a busy time. I've popped down to see the regiment whenever I can, or they pop over to see me. They have been superb about making sure that I'm OK, still enjoying it and getting what I want from it."