Golden girl Lizzie the pride of Otley

Otley's Lizzie Armitstead celebrates her Commonwealth Games gold medal in the cycling road race in Glasgow

Otley's Lizzie Armitstead celebrates her Commonwealth Games gold medal in the cycling road race in Glasgow

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GOLDEN girl Lizzie Armitstead has been hailed in her hometown for a "fantastic" and historic Commonwealth Games victory.

The elite cyclist was already a sporting hero in Otley before last Sunday, but her thrilling gold medal success has elevated her status to that of living legend.

The Glasgow win has also earned the 25 year old a place, as the first English woman to ever win a Commonwealth road race title, in the history books.

And, with Burley-in-Wharfedale's Scott Thwaites taking bronze in the men's road race, too, Sunday was immediately hailed online as "a great day for the Wharfe Valley."

Otley's North Bar Social Tweeted: "Huge congratulations to #Otley lady @L_ArmiTstead on your gold medal! There's a pint in the pump for you here", while Leeds City Council posted: "Congratulations to @L_ArmiTstead on her

golden performance."

Lizzie herself Tweeted shortly afterwards: "I just became Commonwealth Champion! Fantastic team race, very proud and grateful to the English girls! Thank you for all your support."

Otley's MP Greg Mulholland (Lib Dem, Leeds North West) said: "This gold medal has been a long time coming and is incredibly well deserved.

"It was a gruelling 98 kilometre race and Lizzie’s win is all the more significant as she becomes the first English woman to ever win a road race title at the Commonwealth Games.

"It’s been a fantastic few days locally, especially after Alistair and Jonny Brownlee took gold and silver in the triathlon. Lizzie also winning a medal means we have lots to celebrate."

Town Council leader Councillor John Eveleigh (Lab, Ashfield) was equally effusive, and also drew attention to Otley runner Racheal Bamford's achievement of reaching the final of the women's 3000 metre steeplechase.

He said: "What another fantastic performance by Lizzie - a really great team performance and so fitting that Emma Pooley should take the silver!

"We are running out of superlatives to describe her performances, but once again she has put Otley on the map and the whole town is enormously proud of her.

"This has been a great Commonwealth Games for Otley, with Lizzie winning gold in her event and such an outstanding performance by Racheal in hers.

"The town council will be discussing how best we mark the performances of these two elite athletes."

Speaking after crossing the finishing line, Lizzie spoke of her relief at taking the top prize after achieving silver medals at Delhi, in 2010, and the London 2012 Olympics.

She said: "The psychologists tell you it should never be a relief when you win a race but to tell you the truth it is. I am really happy.

“I just feel like I deserve it. I’ve trained so hard. I’m always on the podium but I don’t win that many races."

Lizzie also heaped praise upon Team England partner Emma Pooley, who won the silver after leading the field for much of the ride, before Lizzie burst into pole position with 7 kilometres to go.

She said: "That was the best cycling teamwork I have ever been a part of. It’s such a shame Emma is retiring – it was a fantastic job from her and all the girls."

Councillor Ryk Downes (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) added: "This gold medal is a fantastic achievement.

"I watched the race on the TV and was cheering all the way, I'm so pleased for Lizzie and all the effort she has put in.

"She has done Otley proud, raising our cycling profile still further, and is a great ambassador for cycling and Otley."

Councillor Sandy Lay (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) said: "Lizzie's gold and Scott Thwaites' bronze medals, coming so soon after the Tour de France, continues to cement Otley and the Wharfe Valley's reputation as the north's cycling capital.

"Hopefully going forward this will be one of the catalysts to encourage Leeds City Council and the Town Council to invest more in cycle infrastructure, routes and facilities."

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