SLATE grey skies and torrents of rain failed to dampen the spirits of thousands of cheering fans who turned out to celebrate the achievements of Edinburgh’s Olympic heroes.
Cycling legend Sir Chris Hoy and silver-medal canoeist David Florence were among the Team GB athletes who paraded through the city to mark their performances at London 2012.
An estimated 30,000 people lined the route – 10,000 more than the official Scottish parade in Glasgow last week – to watch the athletes emerge from the City Chambers and meet fans who were gathered behind barriers.
Despite heavy rain at one stage, the stars took the time to pose for photographs with fans and spoke of their pride at being home.
Among those to meet Sir Chris was youngster Jason Craven from Lochgelly, Fife.
“He’s just like on the telly,” said the seven-year-old, who was sitting on his dad’s shoulders to get a better view.
Dad Neil added: “It’s pouring down but we don’t mind at all. It’s not every day Jason gets the chance to meet someone like Chris Hoy.”
Crowds cheered as the team boarded the gold open-top bus and set off up the High Street before heading down The Mound. Spectators ran through the narrow wynds of the Old Town to get ahead of the bus and catch a second glipse as it came out the other side.
As a dazzling array of camera flashes went off, Sir Chris himself took snaps from the bus, while GB teammates including judo star Chris Sherrington, from Broxburn, West Lothian, and boxer Josh Taylor, from Lochend Boxing Club, waved and smiled at fans.
Also on board was Paralympic swimming legend Jim Anderson OBE, from Broxburn. Since his debut in Barcelona 20 years ago, the 49-year-old has claimed six gold, nine silver and two bronze medals, making him one of Britain’s most decorated athletes.
Liz Scott, from Port Seton, East Lothian, who brought Cameron, ten, and Blair, nine, to the parade, said she had been torn over whether to travel to Dunblane to see tennis star Andy Murray’s homecoming, but settled on Edinburgh so her sons could meet their hero, Sir Chris.
She said: “It’s great for them to have the chance to see someone like Chris Hoy.
“He’s really inspiring for the kids, a great role model.”
Another family which had travelled to see the parade were the Herons, from Saltcoats, North Ayrshire.
Dad Mark, 43, and mum Karen, 42, said the family had been glued to coverage of the Games and were particularly proud of the efforts of the Scots Olympians.
Mark said: “We were cheering on the team the entire way, particularly the Scots who did fantastic.”
Finn Templeton, six, was also among those who attended the parade with his mum Alison. “I like cycling but the athletics is better,” he said.
Arriving on Princes Street, Sir Chris and co were met by fans who had packed in five-rows deep. And George Street was a sea of Saltires and ribbons as people of all ages waited patiently in the pouring rain to catch a glimpse of their Olympic heroes.
Jean McEdward of Comely Bank, 74, who watched the parade with four-year-old King Charles Cavalier Katie, said: “I’m a great supporter of Sir Chris Hoy and all of the Olympians and Paralympians.
“It’s difficult to tear yourself away from the television when they are on.”
After arriving at the Assembly Rooms, Sir Chris received the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh.