Mission's Olympic bronze medalist, Brent Hayden, stopped by the Mission Leisure Centre Saturday morning to meet his fans, sign autographs and address the crowd at the Health and Fitness Expo.
Folks got a chance to see and even touch his bronze medal, as he put it around the necks of young admirers and posed for pictures.
Hayden captured the heart of Canada and made his mark on the world stage by winning bronze in the men's 100m freestyle final at the London Olympics in August, but he's really just a hometown boy, and his fans love that about him.
With a broad smile he acknowledged his first swim teacher, Joan McPherson, who admitted that at the age of four, Hayden was quite a challenge for her.
"He was rambunctious and he didn't want to do anything," she said later. "I honestly thought he was going to drown."
Young Hayden didn't have much confidence back then, recalled McPherson.
"He was nervous about doing new things."
Now she just beams with pride of the man he's become, both in and out of the pool.
"It's great to see him, watching him progress from swim club to the Olympics; it was so great to see him grow."
Hayden spoke briefly about his accomplishments in the pool and of those who inspired him along the way, but he also wanted to inspire others.
"If you ever want to be good at anything you have to do it with heart. You have to get out there and compete and experience things," he told the crowd.
"I learned more about myself when I lost than when I won."
But most of all he liked to talk about his home town.
"I was really proud to be the Olympian from Mission competing at the Games," he said.
He cited two other Olympic athletes from Mission, women's Canadian basketball teammates Teresa Gabriele and Kim Smith.
"How cool is that," he said of three Olympians coming from such a small town in one year.
After he won his medal, he said he went back to his room and was on Twitter. Then he paused and said, "Someone sent me a picture of all the people cheering for me at the Mission Leisure Centre and I started crying.
"It's not just about you. It's about what your whole community can do, to affect you in a positive way," he said.
"Mission is more than just a town, it's my home. This is where my heart is."