TODAY, your Argus is backing local people's calls for Gwent's golden boy Mark Colbourne to be given a gong.

The Tredegar cycling star bagged a hat trick of medals including Gwent's only Olympic or Paralympic gold in the 3km individual pursuit, breaking a world record in the process at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

The triumph came just 24 hours after he won silver in the C1-2-3 1km time trial in the Velodrome.

He went on to win his second silver medal in the men’s C1 16km time trial..

The 42-year-old paracyclist who was left with lower leg paralysis after a paragliding accident three years ago enjoyed a dream debut Paralympics.

He already has a gold postbox in his honour next to Tredegar Post Office on Commercial Street, but the people of Blaenau Gwent are hoping he will receive an even greater honour as Britain’s Olympians and Paralympians are set to get their own honours list. And we are backing those calls today.

Cabinet office sources say David Cameron has decided to place awards arising from the London 2012 Games outside the usual system.

Blaenau Gwent Mayor Councillor Graham Bartlett said: "I would love to see Mark Colbourne receive the highest of honours. He is a fantastic role model and inspirational figure.

"Everyone here in Blaenau Gwent is extremely proud of him."

Leader of Blaenau Gwent Council Hedley McCarthy added: "Everyone is so proud of Mark and would support him to get an honour. He deserves even more recognition."

Deputy Leader for Tredegar Town Council Alyson Tippings said: "It would really be appropriate to have a separate honours list for our sporting heroes.

"I hope Olympians and Paralympians will be treated equally, and I hope that Mark, having won three medals, will be awarded with the highest possible honour. His performances at the Games were absolutely breathtaking."

Resident Nicola Bennett, 24, from Dukestown in Tredegar said: "I definitely think Mark should be getting an honour.

"Knowing what he has gone through and seeing that he just gets on with things without it affecting his confidence or self-esteem is truly inspirational."

Mark's mother Margaret said he would enjoy receiving an honour.

"I think that would be really lovely for him," she said. "He met the Prime Minister on Friday for 10 or 15 minutes and there's going to be an open top bus for him around Tredegar. I've been like a celebrity myself this week."

MP for Blaenau Gwent, Nick Smith said it would be great if "one of our own" was considered for an honour.

"It's very important that there is a separate list for Olympians and Paralympians as it would be a shame if they were crowded out," he said.

"People like Mark ought to be considered. He's a fantastic role model for the people interested in sport in South East Wales, and a big thumbs up for everything he's done over the last 10 days. It would be great if one of our own was considered."

Meanwhile Blaenau Gwent AM, Alun Davies said: "Mark's extraordinary achievements have focused the sporting world's attention on our community."

A cabinet office spokesperson said: "The Honours system recognises those who make exceptional contributions to this country, and all awards are made on merit. Honours are usually awarded in the New Year and Queen's Birthday lists."

Mark Colbourne and other Welsh Olympic and Paralympic heroes will be welcomed home on Friday with a special event in Cardiff.

The homecoming ceremony, organised by the Welsh Government, will be for Welsh members of both Paralympics GB and Team GB.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said: "I call on everyone who can, to try and make it to the homecoming event for both our Paralympic and Olympic heroes. It is an opportunity to show them just how proud we are."

The First Minister was speaking ahead of last night's closing ceremony of the Paralympics and praised the Welsh competitors.

"What they have achieved is an inspiration to all of us," he said.


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