Sport : Other Sports

Thousands greet Olympic heroes

14th September 2012, 08:01pm

Sir Chris Hoy: Another memorable day

Sir Chris Hoy: Another memorable day

Thousands of people turned out to honour Scotland's Olympic and Paralympic heroes at a "spectacular" official victory parade.

Six-time gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy, rowers Katherine Grainger and Heather Stanning and cyclist Neil Fachie were among the sportsmen and women who took part in the event in Glasgow.

Scottish athletes won a record-breaking 13 medals at the Games and scored 11 medals at the Paralympics.

Fans lined the streets to watch as the parade set off from Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum at about 4.15pm, making its way through the city via Sauchiehall Street and Buchanan Street to George Square where a huge crowd gathered to greet them as they took to the stage.

Athletes and their guests then attended a reception hosted by First Minister Alex Salmond in the nearby Old Fruitmarket venue.

The athletes were delighted to take part in the celebrations.

Sir Chris said: "It's been a day to remember and I just want to thank everyone for turning out.

"It's overwhelming the support the team has been getting, you can't help but be taken away by the whole occasion and all the athletes are saying the same thing.

"To see this now you can see that it's not just about London, it illustrates that it's about the whole of the UK getting together and enjoying it from the very north to the south of the country, and clearly it meant a lot to the people here."

The cycling sensation has been named as an official ambassador for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, to be hosted by Glasgow.

Grainger, who won a rowing gold along with team-mate Anna Watkins, said: "I don't get back to Glasgow enough. It's my home town, it's lovely to come home and celebrate with the people who have supported us all along."

Fellow rower Stanning, who won Team GB's first gold medal at London 2012, said the Scottish parade was the perfect send off before returning to work as a Royal Artillery officer on Monday.

She said: "It was so nice to come back to Scotland and the reception was great.

"I've been told I'm a bit of a role model now and it's quite scary. There were some young girls running beside the float today saying 'you've inspired us to start rowing' and I just think that's wonderful.

"The benefits they will get from doing it, even if they don't become champions, are great, but I feel a little bit guilty if they now spend all their time in the winter training."

Tennis star Andy Murray, another Scottish gold medallist, was not at the parade after he was advised to rest following his US Open tennis championship victory.

Hundreds of Union flag and Saltire-waving well-wishers gathered outside Kelvingrove as the athletes boarded two floats for the parade.

They arrived in George Square shortly before 5pm and were greeted by huge cheers from around 17,000 flag-waving spectators.

The athletes were introduced on stage and were greeted by a welcoming party including First Minister Alex Salmond. The biggest cheer was for Sir Chris Hoy who took to the stage carrying a large saltire flag.

He said: "Thank you to everybody that has come out today and thank you to everybody who supported the Olympic and Paralympic teams."

Paralympic cyclist Fachie, who won a gold and silver at the Paralympics was also given a loud reception in his home town.

He said: "I'm really glad I can get out there and celebrate with all the Scottish fans who have come out in, well, not terrible weather, but it's not the warmest day of the year.

"The Games were made by the fans. The level of support we had was just phenomenal."

Louise Martin, chair of sportscotland, said that Scottish sport is on a high.

She said: "Today's celebrations were a fitting tribute for all of the Scottish athletes in Team GB and ParalympicsGB. The unbelievable crowds which turned out was a sight to behold and shows just how much the Scottish public appreciate these wonderful athletes.

"As we move forward to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games it will be with excitement, optimism, and belief that Team Scotland will deliver its best ever Games."

Around 250 guests, including athletes, their friends and family, young sports people and representatives from other sporting bodies, attended the reception at the Old Fruitmarket.

Mr Salmond said the country has "immense pride" in the athletes' achievements.

He said: "This has been an inspirational day in many ways. The spectacular events in Glasgow recognised the truly awe-inspiring performance of all of Scotland's athletes at this summer's Olympics and Paralympics.

"The celebrations also highlighted the breathtaking achievements of our many medal winners, all of whom have shown what heights can be reached when talent is allied to sheer dedication and hard work."

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