LONDON’S streets overflowed with pride yesterday as an estimated million people cheered Great Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic heroes through the city, bringing down the curtain on a glorious sporting summer.
Some 800 athletes, including cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, swimmer Ellie Simmonds and heptathlete Jessica Ennis, took to floats for the parade from Mansion House to the Queen Victoria Memorial near Buckingham Palace.
Following the procession Prime Minister David Cameron, Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Princess Anne paid tribute to the Olympic and Paralympic teams, both of whom surpassed their medal targets. Johnson said: “You produced such paroxysms of tears and joy on the sofas of Britain that you probably not only inspired a generation but helped to create one as well.”
Cameron called it “the great British summer that will be remembered in hundreds of years to come”, adding of the athletes: “You showed that we can take on the world and yes, we can win.”
Hoy, who took his Olympic gold medal tally to six during the Games, said: “I just didn’t think it was possible to see so many people out on the streets supporting us.”
Double Paralympic gold medal winner Simmonds said: “It’s amazing to celebrate with the public, who are the ones that helped us have that home advantage during the Games.”
The Red Arrows trailed red, white and blue smoke at the parade’s end, after the 21 floats, arranged by sport in alphabetical order, had passed down the Mall, which was reserved for volunteers and others who had key Games roles.