04:36PM, Thursday 05 August 2021
Maidenhead swimmer Tom Dean won two gold medals in Tokyo
Athletes from the Royal Borough are in line for the council’s highest honour as a mark of their ‘phenomenal’ success at this year’s Olympic Games.
Speaking to the Advertiser and Express this week, leader of the Royal Borough, Councillor Andrew Johnson, said he was looking forward to hearing suggestions from the public on how best to mark their achievements.
Athletes from the borough, and Maidenhead in particular, have had a hugely successful Olympics in Tokyo, with Tom Dean winning two gold medals in the swimming, and Jack Beaumont claiming silver in the men’s quadruple sculls rowing.
Families and friends of the athletes held parties to mark the success of the athletes, with Sbihi receiving a warm welcome back on Saturday, while Dean's surprise welcome home party made national headlines on Monday night.
Other athletes from the area have represented Team GB at the Games with distinction.
Conservative council leader Johnson said he will be recommending to the council that those who took part in the games and the upcoming Paralympics be granted Freedom of the Borough as a reward.
He added this will include those from the area who were due to compete in Japan but were prevented from doing so due to COVID, such as Windsor-based skeet shooter Amber Hill.
The Freedom of the Borough is the highest award that the council can give to individuals, recognising those who have made a ‘significant contribution’ to the area.
It has been handed out just three times this century, with Sir Clive Woodward and Sir Nicholas Winton among the previous recipients.
A motion on awarding these accolades will be put forward and voted on at a full council meeting.
“We have had phenomenal success as a Royal Borough with Team GB,” Cllr Johnson said. "I am immensly proud of their great achievements.
“In this time of relative uncertainty it has been a very welcome flash of positivity and inspiration.”
The council leader added the borough would be waiting until the conclusion of both the Olympics and Paralympics before hosting any kind of celebration events.
Cllr Johnson said the council would like to have a ‘civic reception’ with the mayor, Cllr John Story, where all athletes can be recognised and awarded Freedom of the Borough.
The leader said his preference would be to hold it at the Braywick Leisure Centre, which he called ‘the heart of our sport offering’.
“We are also very open to ideas and suggestions as to what our residents would like to see in terms of an event,” Cllr Johnson said. “That could be something from a party, to a tour around the borough.
“There is nothing hard set in stone, but we are up for ideas.”
Leader of the Liberal Democrat group, Cllr Simon Werner (Pinkneys Green) said that offering Freedom of the Borough was ‘fantastic’.
“As well as giving Freedom of the Borough, we need to be re-investing in these facilities,” Cllr Werner said.
“If we want to call ourselves the Olympic borough, we need to give these sports the backing they deserve.”
In response, Cllr Johnson said that investing in sport ‘remains a major priority of the administration’.
“We have invested millions of pounds in a new leisure facility, and we continue to support individual groups and organisations going forward,” he said.
“On the issue of SportsAble, that was a decision taken by trustees to effectively wind up the organisation, of which he [Cllr Werner] is fully aware.
“And with Phoenix Gym, I believe discussions are still ongoing as to what we can do in terms of finding provision for as many of those gymnasts.
“There is still an onus on us to work with as many groups to find the best outcome for them, but recognising that new groups are emerging all the time.”
Slough gymnast Amelie Morgan also enjoyed success with Great Britain in the women’s team event.
Slough Borough Council said that it has nothing planned in terms of an event at this stage, but it would like to invite the town’s athletes in for a certificate presentation with the mayor, once both sets of Games are over.