Council invites Commonwealth Games victor Louise Hazel to receive the Freedom of March following her sensational victory

MARCH super athlete Louise Hazel is to receive the Freedom of her home town of March following her sensational gold medal victory at the Commonwealth Games.

MARCH super athlete Louise Hazel is to receive the Freedom of her home town of March following her sensational gold medal victory at the Commonwealth Games.

The Mayor of March, Councillor Andrew Pugh, said today the 25 year-old athlete had achieved “something special” for her town and her country.

“This is the highest honour the town council can award- and we are delighted to accord this to Hazel,” he said. “She will become not only the first female to be honoured in this way but she will also be the first individual. It is truly an amazing achievement and the whole town has cause to celebrate.”

It will be only the third time the council has awarded the Freedom of March – the first in 1996 to the air training corps and in 2001 the council handed the honour to the local army cadets.

Clive Lemmon, town clerk of March, posted the invitation today to Louise inviting her to attend a special ceremony to accept their Freedom of the Town award.

Several dates for the ceremony have been offered to Louise and Mr Lemmon said the town council felt it would be a “great honour” if the March based athlete were to agree.

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Louise won gold in the heptathlon at the Commonwealth Games after giving the performance of her life in Delhi.

The March athlete smashed her personal bests throughout the competition to pip favourite Jessica Zelinka by just 56 points in a nerve-wracking finale.

Hazel went into the final event of the competition, the 800m, with a nine-second advantage over Canadian, Zelinka.

The gutsy star, whose personal best in the event is almost nine seconds slower than Zelinka’s, crossed the line five seconds behind her to clinch Commonwealth gold.

An emotional Hazel, whose team-mate Grace Clement grabbed an unexpected bronze medal said: “We’re over the moon and we really enjoyed our lap of honour.

“It was a fantastic performance from Grace as well but I’m so happy.

“Sadly my dad passed away in 2008 and couldn’t be here and I just pictured him on that finish line as I was running in and it gave me a second wind really.

“I thought my mum was watching from her hotel but she was here and I’ve just gone and seen her.

“She gave me a big kiss and she’s really proud. I’m so happy.”

The March athlete took a 126 point lead into the final event of the competition after throwing a personal best of 44.42 metres in the javelin to edge her towards Commonwealth glory.

The 25-year-old, who celebrated her birthday on Wednesday, moved ahead of overnight leader Zelinka with a scintillating performance on the final day.

Hazel leapt 6.44m in the long jump, another new personal best, to move 74 points clear before extending her lead in the javelin.

She began yesterday’s event by setting a season’s best time of 13.25s in the 100m hurdles.

It is a discipline she has excelled in all season, winning the UK Championships in Birmingham earlier this year.

She earned a further 842 points in the High Jump for clearing 1.69m, just short of her personal best of 1.71m. She finished tied for fifth place out of the 12 competitors.

However, she seemed delighted at clearing 1.69m, shouting “yes, come on” as she hit the mat.

Hazel also put in a good display in the shot put, with her first effort of 12.54m good enough for 697 points to keep her in the hunt for a medal.

But a superb effort in the 200m saw Hazel set a personal best of 24.10s, scoring 971 points. Starting in lane eight, she ran a terrific bend but was pipped on the line by Zelinka who finished in 24.08s.

Hazel finished the day with 3,597 points, a lifetime best score for the end of the first day.

Hazel said: “I was delighted with my high jump performance, I was hoping for anything over 1.63m. I never thought I would run close to 24s in the 200m either so I am just over the moon.”

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