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24 September 2012
Double Olympic gold medallist Tom James has spoken of his pride as he prepares to be honoured at a special homecoming celebration
On Friday 28th September, both Tom and fellow Olympic medallist Chris Bartley will be welcomed home in style with celebration and civic ceremony at the Guildhall. The WOW (Wrexham’s Olympic Winners) event will take place between 4.00 and 6.00 pm and will feature circus acts, sporting activities and live music for families to enjoy.
Wrexham's young sporting ambassadors and elite athletes have all been invited and will form a special guard of honour to escort the athletes to the Guildhall where they will receive a civic welcome by the Mayor before making an appearance on the balcony and taking a walk on the green.
And Tom James will add another honour to his growing list of accolades when he is granted the Freedom of the County Borough in recognition of his outstanding performance in winning two Gold Medals at consecutive Olympic Games held in Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
Tom will become the first sportsperson to receive the honour, which is the highest award any council can bestow on an individual, group or organisation.
And Tom has spoken of his delight ahead of Friday’s big homecoming event.
“I don’t think it has really sunk in yet,” Tom said.
“I am really looking forward to it. It is a big thing for both myself and Chris to be honoured by our home town and we’re both very grateful to the people of Wrexham for all the support they have given us.
“All of this has happened so quickly in short space of time. I think it is going to take a while for everything to sink in and to appreciate exactly what it means. I’m very grateful and I feel really lucky and privileged to have been given Freedom of the Borough.
“I’m looking forward to the celebration and it will be great share this experience with my family here in Wrexham.”
Wrexham’s WOW event will also focus on the area’s sporting community. Sporting clubs and associations from around the county borough will be providing demonstrations and tasters to encourage youngsters to take up a sporting activity.
And Tom is hoping that Team GB’s heroics at London 2012 will succeed making the Games motto – ‘Inspire a Generation’ – a reality
He added: “I hope more people do take up a sport as a result London 2012. There’s a real feel-good factor surrounding the Games but that will be just a memory if we don’t have a real legacy in place. If someone takes up a new sport, gets healthy and enjoys getting outdoors more then, for me, that should be London 2012’s true legacy.
“There is a lot of good work going on in local sporting clubs. There are a lot of good coaches out there and there has definitely been a spike in interest, especially in young people. I hope that as a country we are able to capitalise on that.”
With London 2012 bringing Britain’s best medal haul since 1908, attention is already shifting to Rio in four years time to see if Team GB can repeat or even better their success.
And despite two gold medals to his name already, Tom has not ruled out going for a historic third in 2016.
He said: “I’ve got to let this one sink in before I start thinking about Rio. It would be amazing and I would love to compete at Rio 2016. To win a third gold medal would be exceptional because not many people have gone on to achieve that. It’s certainly something I’ve thought about but we will have to see.”
And there is one thing in particular Tom is looking forward to doing on his return to Wrexham:
“I haven’t had a chance to have my photo with the gold post box yet,” he said:
“I have driven past it but I haven’t had anyone else in the car with me to take a photo! I’ve had lots of people tweeting pictures of themselves next to the post box which has been funny. Maybe I’ll have a chance to have my picture taken next to it on Friday.”