By Charlotte Green, Local Democracy Reporter
OLYMPIC cycling champion Matt Walls, from Shaw, has been granted freedom of the borough for giving ’eminent services’ to Oldham.
Councillors agreed to award the 23-year-old cyclist the honour at a meeting of the full council.
Walls made track history in Tokyo by becoming Britain’s first ever men’s omnium Olympic champion before adding a silver medal alongside teammate Ethan Hayter in the madison just days later.
Walls attended St Joseph’s Primary School and Crompton House Secondary School, where he took up cycling after performing well in the bike leg of a school triathlon.
He progressed to win the madison and team pursuit events with Team GB at the European Junior track championships in 2016.
Council leader Arooj Shah said: “His star was then well and truly on the ascent.
“Over the next few years he picked up accolades including world cup and world championship medals before of course going onto this years’ Tokyo Olympics and bringing home a gold and silver. And all this at the age of just 23.
“I hope I speak for us all when I say that Oldham is so proud of Matt, he’s a true inspiration to young Oldhamers and a terrific ambassador for the borough.”
Cllr Howard Sykes, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition group and Shaw ward councillor seconded the nomination for freedom of the borough.
He added: “People in Shaw and Crompton are absolutely bursting with pride about it.”
The proposal was also supported by Conservative group leader Cllr Graham Sheldon.
The Freedom of the Borough is the highest accolade the council can bestow. Previous recipients include Dame Sarah Lees, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Norman Stoller and fellow sports stars Nicola White and Kevin Sinfield.
Walls will be only the 27th person to receive the prestigious award since 1909 and a formal ceremony is to be confirmed.
• A plea from Shaw Liberal Democrat councillors for a gold post box in the town to mark the recent Olympic success of local hero Matthew Walls has been refused by Royal Mail, who said ‘that painting gold was to mark a unique period of time in 2012’.
Cllr Howard Sykes MBE, who made the request on behalf of his colleagues, was ‘very disappointed’ at the response.
He said: “It is clear Royal Mail regard the action they took after the 2012 London Games in painting post boxes gold as a never-to-be-repeated homage to this nation’s Olympic success.
“It is a real pity they do not feel able now to continue the practice as a gold post box is a clear symbol to local residents that one of their own has done them proud.”