Exeter awards sporting heroes Freedom of the City status
8th October 2014
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Exeter Harriers runner Jo Pavey, who trains at Exeter Arena, won the European 10,000m title in September after a thrilling final lap, while swimmer Liam Tancock has been crowned World Champion three times during his illustrious career. 

Freedom of the City is an honorary position which the City Council can bestow on anyone who has, in its opinion, undertaken something which is outstanding or has helped enhance the reputation of the city. 

Pavey, has represented Great Britain for many years and taken part in all the major events including the Olympics, the World Championships and the Commonwealth Games.

She said: "I was born and brought up in East Devon, attended Exeter College and still live just outside of Exeter and so I feel especially proud to represent Exeter when I'm competing. I first joined Exeter Harriers Athletics Club back in 1987 as a 13 year old. It's been a very long journey to the 2014 athletics season with many ups and downs but I have always loved what I do and that has kept me going. To become the oldest European Champion in history was a bit of a surprise this year and it has been very nice that people have said that it has inspired them to get active over the age of 40 and as a busy parent!

"We now have excellent facilities at the Exeter Arena which is great for my training and it's very different from the days when I used to train at Clifton Hill in the late 1980's.
"It was through the Harriers that I met my husband and coach Gav and so in some ways my whole family life has been shaped by joining the club. I have had such brilliant support from the club, the people of Exeter and Devon as a whole and I feel so grateful to everyone. Exeter is a wonderful vibrant city surrounded by beautiful countryside. It's the perfect area for an international athlete to live and train and so since starting a family in 2009 I have not been to any overseas training camps. Instead I have based myself right here at home in Devon. It always makes me feel so proud to see Exeter written next to my name at international athletics meets."

Exeter boy Liam Tancock, trained at Exeter's Pyramids Swimming Pool as a junior.

Tancock said: "I feel extremely honoured to have been considered for the Freedom of the City of Exeter. I am a very proud Exonian, and to be presented this accolade is truly special.

"In my time as an elite athlete I have travelled the world and picked up some amazing achievements along the way including becoming World Champion 3 times, and also breaking the World Record. All this I couldn’t have done without the support of the city. From an early age the city of Exeter has believed, encouraged and supported me and this has continued throughout my career. I hope that as I have grown as a person and athlete, I have inspired people, and been a good ambassador for the city that I love.

"I learnt to swim here and am still a proud member of Exeter City Swimming Club, and driving past the Pyramids leisure centre only brings back fond memories of all those early morning swims I did there. Being a local lad I have grown up supporting Exeter City FC and the Exeter Chiefs, both through the highs and the lows, and follow them from wherever I am in the world. But It’s even better when I am home, and can give them my full support and cheers from the stands.

"Much like the whole of Exeter I am excited that the city was chosen to host three of the Rugby World Cup 2015 fixtures, this really shows that Exeter is on the map and there is no doubt that we are here to stay. To be given this award is a very special and I hope to continue to do the city proud."

The awards are subject to approval at an Extraordinary Council meeting on Wednesday 15 October. If given approval, the pair will be bestowed with the honour at a ceremony in the near future.

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Dave B

Member since: 10th July 2012

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