London 2012 Olympics gold medal hero Steven Burke granted Freedom of Pendle

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THE newly-crowned Olympic gold medallist - Steven Burke - will return to his hometown of Colne to be offered the highest honour Pendle Council can provide for a resident.

He will be made Honorary Freeman of the Borough in recognition of his gold medal on Day 7 of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

It’s the first time in over ten years somebody has received this accolade and at 24 years of age it’s believed Steven is the youngest individual to be given this title.

The former Colne Park High School and Nelson and Colne College student is now a double Olympic medallist, having already won a bronze medal in the men’s individual pursuit at Beijing in 2008 after being called from the reserve squad with just 48 hours’ notice.

He made his big break in 2007, winning a gold medal in the team pursuit at the under-23 European Track Championships and bronze in the under-23 men’s individual pursuit.

The “Colne Cyclone”, as he has been nicknamed, has twice been part of a world record breaking team this year – in the team pursuit final at the Track Cycling World Championships in Melbourne and Thursday last week as part of the Great Britain Olympic team, setting a new world record time during the men’s team pursuit track cycling qualifier.

The leader of Pendle Council, Coun. Joe Cooney, said: “When we talk about ‘inspiring a generation’, there can be no better way than having a young person from your town winning a gold medal at the Olympic Games being held on home turf.

“There has been a huge buzz in the last few days about Steven and I can’t tell you how proud I am to have an Olympic gold medallist from our town. He is a huge credit to Colne and to Pendle. In years to come, people will still be talking about these Games, and in particular Steven’s success.

“You only have to look at how the profile of cycling in Pendle has rocketed in the past few years to see how people can be inspired. He’s a great ambassador for the sport, and the best of it is he’s only at the start of his career. I can’t wait to welcome him home to celebrate in Colne.”

The president of British Cycling, Mr Brian Cookson, who is also Pendle Council’s Director of Regeneration, broke the news to Steven that he is to be offered Honorary Freeman of the Borough status just prior to the medal ceremony.

Coun. Cooney added: “We thought this might be Steven’s year and so we’ve had some plans in place for him winning a gold medal. We’ll be announcing the homecoming parade, the date of his Honorary Freeman of the Borough award and further celebrations in due course.”