London 2012 Olympics: Million line London streets to hail the pride of Britain
AFTER six weeks, 185 medals, and an emotional journey which has redefined our view of sport and disability, Britain’s golden summer culminated in a joyous finale yesterday as an estimated one million people lined London’s streets to celebrate the nation’s Olympic and Paralympic heroes.
• 21 floats and 800 athletes parade through London
• Chris Hoy hails support of British sport fans
The day after the curtain fell on the Paralympic Games courtesy of an acclaimed closing ceremony, the scenes of jubilation continued to be played out across the capital’s streets, as huge numbers turned out to greet The Greatest Team Parade.
Scotland’s medal-winning athletes – including Sir Chris Hoy and Katherine Grainger – were among nearly 800 competitors to take part in the triumphant lunchtime procession through the streets of London, telling of their pride and gratitude at the support and encouragement they have received from afar.
Dozens deep in places, the crowds formed a sea of red, white, and blue, greeting each flat-bed lorry with waves and a flurry of Union flags. In turn, the athletes, their medals draped around their necks, waved and hollered back, with diver Tom Daley and others capturing the ecstatic scenes for posterity on their camera phones.
On the ground, schoolchildren stood by pinstriped City traders and members of the armed forces. Above, flag-bearing office workers perched precariously on window ledges to catch a glimpse of proceedings, with construction workers whooping from atop scaffolding.
Even after some of the most iconic few months in modern British history, the uncharacteristic national outpouring of
enthusiasm which began with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee was still capable of shock.
A visibly overwhelmed Sir Chris, wearing a broad smile as he stood side by side with his fellow cycling stars, observed: “There are people hanging off the tops of roof, out of windows, and climbing lampposts. It is incredible. This is our chance to thank these guys for their support.”
Glasgow-born gold medal winning rower Katherine Grainger also expressed surprise at the numbers, remarking: “My word, we could never have expected this.”
Prime Minister David Cameron hailed the carnival-style atmosphere – and the Games which preceded it – as moments which gave the entire country a “tremendous lift,” and expressed confidence that the summer would be something “we’ll talk about with our children and grandchildren”.
The Greatest Team Parade, which followed a route from Mansion House to Trafalgar Square, began shortly after 1:40pm to a trumpet fanfare, as the first of 21 open-top floats departed, carrying the stars of the Olympics Super Saturday; heptathlon gold medallist Jessica Ennis, long jump champion Greg Rutherford, and double gold winner Mo Farah, the latter drawing huge cheers as he performed his “Mobot” pose.
The parade, a tradition which began after the Athens Games eight years ago, travelled along Queen Victoria Street and Cannon Street towards St Paul’s Cathedral, before continuing along Fleet Street, past Aldwych and into The Strand, before reaching Trafalgar Square.
Sir Chris, who praised the ordinary people who “made the Games,” lifted the spirits of Scottish sporting fans hoping to see him perform in the velodrome bearing his name in two years’ time, confirming his desire to participate at the Commonwealth Games 2014 in Glasgow.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: West