World record holder David Weir MBE has been made the first person in 30 years to be made an honourary freeman of the borough.

The elite Paralympian wheelchair athlete, who won two golds, a silver and a bronze at the 2008 Summer Paralympic Games, received the honour at a ceremony at the Europa Gallery in Sutton yesterday.

The 29-year-old Wallington father-of-one, who was crowned the BBC London 2008 disabled athlete of the year, won his fourth London Wheelchair Marathon title last April.

Mr Weir, who was also awarded MBE in this year’s Queen’s New Years honours for his services to disabled sport, devotes most of his time to encouraging disabled children to get involved in sport by visiting schools and training sessions.

Unlike some historical traditions in other cities, the freemen of Sutton have no specific trading rights and privileges, such as exemption from tolls, that set them above the majority.

But Mr Weir said the honour more than enough as the council helped start his career.

He said: “It’s a great honour to be given the Freedom of the Borough of Sutton and I feel really privileged.

“The council actually helped me get started in the sport as the Mayor gave me a grant for about £800 when I was eight years old to buy my first racing wheelchair.

“No matter where I go to race I always look forward to coming back home to Sutton.’’ Leader of Sutton Council Councillor Sean Brennan said: “David is one of the finest athletes the borough has ever produced and in recent years has been one of Sutton's greatest ambassadors.

"His achievements in Beijing were simply exceptional not least as he had been struggling with a virus in the run up to the Games.

"His will to win was an inspiration to us all and what many people forget is that his success was the result of years of dedication and training.’’

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