CYCLING queen Dani King made history again yesterday – by becoming the first person to ride across a newly restored Hampshire bridge.
The Hamble-based Olympic gold medallist christened the Hockley Viaduct in Winchester, which has reopened after a £1m restoration project and decades of campaigning.
Civic chiefs hope it will boost residents’ wellbeing and fitness.
Dani, the county’s home-grown star of London 2012, said: “It’s great to see so many people around today. It will be great for the city and great for the community.
“I’ve got quite a lot of friends and family in Winchester and I always head out towards Winchester when I’m training.”
The former student of Barton Peveril College in Eastleigh crossed the bridge with children from Compton All Saints Church of England Primary School.
They broke the red tape held by Winchester mayor Councillor Frank Pearson and former Winchester City Council leader George Beckett.
The bridge completes the final section of National Cycle Network Route 23, running from Reading to the Isle of Wight.
Commuters can now park and cycle from the South Park and Ride site into the city centre.
Sustrans, a charity promoting “healthier, cleaner and cheaper journeys”, has been involved throughout the project.
Chief executive Malcolm Shepherd said: “It’s brilliant. It’s linking the whole network and opening up whole new routes. The roads just aren’t safe enough now and we need to change that.”
Later Dani and Paralympic silver and bronze medallist David Smith were awarded the Freedom of the Borough of Eastleigh at a ceremony last night.
David, from Eastleigh, and Dani, from Hamble, both received the highest honour that the borough can give in the council chamber in front of 200 guests.
They were given a framed hand written scroll that includes a hand-painted local scene.
Just 13 others have received the prestigious Eastleigh Borough Council accolade since the council was formed in 1974.
David won gold in boccia at Beijing's 2008 Para-lympics and picked up two further medals last year.
After winning the women's pursuit at last year's London Olympics, Dani has already had a celebratory stamp, a postbox painted gold and a cycle route named after her in Hamble as well as being made an MBE in the New Year's Honours list.
At the weekend the 22-year-old completed a hat-trick of Track Cycling World Championship titles after winning the women's Team Pursuit final in Belarus.
Mayor of Eastleigh Cllr Rupert Kyrle said: “Winning a medal at an Olympic or Paralympic Games is a tremendous achievement and I will be delighted to be presenting the Freedom of the Borough to Dani and David.”
Dani - my life after winning Olympic gold