Slideshow: Gold standard returns to brighten up City for Olympic parade
IT was a chance to reflect on the golden days of summer and forget, for a moment, the gathering storm. The credit crunch and looming recession were both smothered under Union flags and buried by ticker-tape of red, white and blue as Britain celebrated the Olympians who yesterday brought gold, briefly, back into the City.
Thousands gathered in Trafalgar Square to cheer on the achievements of Britain's Olympians and Paralympians who had paraded through the capital in a flotilla of 12 open-topped buses and later met the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
• Watch a slideshow of pictures from the parade here
Chris Hoy, the Scots cyclist who won a record three golds in Beijing, and swimmer Rebecca Adlington, who won two, were among the 500-plus athletes cheered from Mansion House to Trafalgar Square.
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, compared their achievements to Nelson's victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. He said: "I have heard today there are some people on the telly asking why we're holding this parade in mid-October when the leaves are falling and the shares are crashing. The answer is there is never a wrong time to celebrate the greatest achievement by the British Olympic and Paralympic team since 1908."
Almost two months after Team GB's fourth-place finish in the medals table, thousands of business workers flooded out of offices to join flag-waving fans lining the procession route from St Paul's Cathedral down The Strand. Construction workers downed tools and hung off scaffolding to take pictures of the athletes who won 19 golds, 13 silvers and 15 bronzes in Beijing.
The parade also included Britain's Paralympians, who finished second in the medals list at the Paralympics with 102 medals, including 42 golds.
"It's unbelievable and great to see so much positivity – it's the stuff of dreams," said Hoy. "Back in Beijing, we were away from how all this was being received in Britain, and now we have the chance to give them a wave face to face and say thank you.
"It just goes to show how much Team GB's performance really captured the imagination of the country. We were no longer the plucky British losers."
Tom Daley, the 14-year-old diver who was Britain's youngest male Olympian in 48 years, was given the day off of school to take part.
He said: "Seeing Chris (Hoy] here with his three medals is a great inspiration… and hopefully I will be able to go out and get one for myself."
Organisers hope the parade will energise support for the 2012 London Olympics, whose preparations are being squeezed by the global credit crunch.
"The success of the team and the reaction of the British public… will be multiplied many times over in 2012," the London Olympics organiser, Lord Sebastian Coe said.
Robin Walker, a management consultant, who travelled from Worcestershire, has been inspired to play his part in 2012. "I'm a bit of a sport nut and I'm very happy to be here," the 52-year-old said. "I'm on the volunteers' list for the 2012 Games, so I hope to get involved in them in some way."
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 12 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east