Commonwealth heptathlon champion Hazel becomes first individual to be granted the Freedom of March

COMMONWEALTH heptathlon champion Louise Hazel proudly returned to March yesterday as she become the first individual to be granted the freedom of the town.

The 25-year-old triumphed in Delhi last October giving the performance of her life to pip favourite Jessica Zelinka by just 56 points.

At a special ceremony at March Town Hall last night the Mayor of March, Councillor Andrew Pugh, presented her with a framed scroll to represent being granted the Freedom of March.

The former Neale-Wade Community College student said: “It’s a real honour to be granted the freedom of my hometown - to be the first individual to do so makes it even better.

“I suppose it will go down history because when people look back in a few hundred years my name will still be on that list.

“Receiving an award like this makes the actual victory that little bit sweeter.”

It was only the third time the council has awarded anyone the Freedom of March. The Air Training Corps received it in 1996 and local Army Cadets received it in 2001.

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Cllr Pugh said: “It’s the first time any single person has had the honour of being given the freedom of March - the highest honour the town council can award - and it was thoroughly deserved.

“It was a brilliant achievement by Louise and it was a fantastic boost for the area too.”

Earlier in the day Louise returned to Neale-Wade to meet the school’s sports academy students to give an insight into her life as an elite athlete.

She said: “It was so nice to catch up with some of my old teachers and see how the school has grown and changed since I left.

“My profile has grown but things haven’t really changed too much for personally.

“I have more commercial responsibilities but I still train twice a day. I know it sounds corny but I’m living my dream.”

Ben Crosbie, the school’s PE teacher, said: “The students were a credit to themselves asking some very sensible and appropriate questions.

“We would like to thank Louise for giving her time and wish her the best of luck for the coming season.”

Louise makes her return to heptathlon competition in Austria in May and should compete in the World Championships in South Korea in August. She is also set to appear on BBC One’s Question of Sport.

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