LEADING figures from sport, entertainment and politics have been saluting St Helens’ Owen Livesey on his judo gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.

The 22-year-old from Haresfinch triumphed in the -81kg category on Friday evening in Glasgow.

The former Saints rugby league junior, who was playing for amateurs Pilkington Recs last year after taking a break from judo, described the victory as “the best day of my life to date”.

Owen’s story will be seen by some as a fairytale, because he spent 18 months out of judo after becoming disillusioned when he missed out on selection for the London 2012 Olympics.

But he is putting down his golden moment to old fashioned hard work and determination.

Messages of congratulations poured in from across St Helens, with dozens of people contacting the judo player, formerly of the SKK club in Newton.

Among those to send a message was middleweight boxer Martin Murray, who wrote: “Big congrats to @LiveseyJudo81 on winning Judo gold in the commonwealth games. St Helens is proud of you mate.”

Saints added their own warm wards on Facebook: “(We) would like to congratulate former scholar and academy player Owen Livesey on his Commonwealth gold medal in Judo.

“The 22-year-old was a scholar at the club for three years and toured Australia with the Academy in 2006.

“He also played 18s and 20s for Widnes and appeared for Rochdale too.

“The Haresfincher juggled judo and rugby throughout his time at the Saints.”

Former Mayor of St Helens, Cllr Andy Bowden, and council leader Barrie Grunewald added to the salutes, prompting calls from some in the town for Owen to receive a civic reception.

Meanwhile, Jacquie Abbott, the former Beautiful South singer who is enjoying a successful comeback with Paul Heaton this year, offered a pat on the back to another shining star of the town.

She wrote: “Well done to St Helens born @LiveseyJudo81 on winning Gold at #CommonwealthGames.

Owen, meanwhile, added: “Best day of my life to date... Thanks to everyone for the support.. Upwards and onwards!!”