Thousands turn out for athletes

Congleton Guardian: Heptathlete Jessica Ennis shows the crowd her gold medal as the parade passes the Royal Courts of Justice Heptathlete Jessica Ennis shows the crowd her gold medal as the parade passes the Royal Courts of Justice

The streets of London were packed when hundreds of thousands of well-wishers turned out to cheer Britain's sporting heroes in a last hurrah as the "golden summer of British sport" came to a close.

Olympics and Paralympics stars including Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah, Sir Chris Hoy, Ellie Simmonds and Jonnie Peacock proudly wore their medals as they waved to fans from open-top floats which wound their way through streets full of fans.

Around 800 athletes took part in The Greatest Team Parade which passed crowds, dozens deep in places, who became a sea of red, white and blue as they waved Union flags. Some estimates put the number of revellers in London at close to a million.

Despite the Paralympics coming to a close with a rousing ceremony last night, the celebrations continued today with a carnival-like atmosphere in the city. Pavements were thronged with thousands of people, while others leaned out of windows and from balconies to cheer the sportsmen and women.

Athletes and spectators were also treated to a spectacular flypast which roared over their heads. RAF aircraft were led by the British Airways jet used to bring the Olympic Flame to the UK at the start of the Games. The flame-coloured Firefly A319 displayed a "thank you" message on its underbelly before the Red Arrows followed, leaving a trail of red, white and blue smoke in their wake.

The procession, made up of 21 floats grouped in alphabetical order by their sport, started off from Mansion House in the City and made its way through central London, ending up at the Queen Victoria Memorial on The Mall.

The stars of the Olympics' Super Saturday - Farah who won gold in both the 5,000m and 10,000m, heptathlon gold medallist Ennis and long jump champion Greg Rutherford - were in the first three floats with Team GB's cycling stars including Hoy, Jason Kenny, Laura Trott and Victoria Pendleton on another.

Speaking from his float, Britain's most successful Olympic sailor, four-times gold medallist Ben Ainslie said: "It's nuts, I've never seen anything like it. I'm proud to be a part of it. The whole nation has done a fantastic job with the Olympic Games and we should be very proud. I'm blown away by the amount of support."

Wheelchair racer David Weir said his haul of four gold medals has not sunk in yet, describing the support he has received from fans as "unbelievable". He told said: "It's just been an unbelievable 11 days of competition."

As the procession came to an end, Prime Minister David Cameron told the crowd on The Mall: "On behalf of the whole nation, thank you. Thank you to the athletes, to Team GB, to ParalympicsGB. You have given us a golden summer of British sport and you have made us all so proud. You have given us memories that we will never forget. The whole country salutes your brilliance."

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