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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 October, 2004, 20:37 GMT 21:37 UK
Foster given Freedom of Gateshead
Brendan Foster receiving honorary Freedom of Gateshead
The ceremony took place in Gateshead
One of Tyneside's best-loved sporting heroes has been honoured by the town he put on the world athletics map.

Olympic and Commonwealth champion Brendan Foster was made an Honorary Freeman of his home town of Gateshead.

Gateshead Council made the award for Mr Foster's contribution to athletics in the North East and the rest of the UK.

The creator of the Great North Run joins just 27 others to be given the Freedom of Gateshead, since the borough was formed in 1835.

At the ceremony at Gateshead's Shipley Art Gallery, council leader Mick Henry presented Mr Foster with a hand-inscribed scroll and a landscape painting of Bamburgh.

In attendance was fellow Freemen, Olympic and world triple jumping champion Jonathan Edwards.

From 1974 until today, only four other people have received the honour, the most recent being Jonathan Edwards.

'Crucial role'

Mr Foster said: "It's a great honour. Gateshead has come a long way over the past few years.

"I know if you become a Freeman of Newcastle you can graze your sheep on the Town Moor. But I'm not quite sure what I can do in Gateshead."

Mr Foster has won no fewer than seven medals at major championships, including golds at the 1974 European Games and 1978 Commonwealth Games and has held world records for the two miles and 3,000 metres.

The latter was set at the Gateshead International Stadium, for which he was the driving force.

Council leader Mick Henry said: "As the council's sport and recreation manager, Brendan played a crucial role in developing Gateshead International Stadium with the installation of the new tartan track and the Tyne and Wear Stand.

"And his vision for a world-class venue is still being continued today with a new 15m state-of-the-art sports facility for athletes and the community planned for next year."





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