After an overwhelmingly successful Olympics and Paralympic games in Brazil this summer, Team GB’s athletes celebrated in with victory parades in Manchester and London.
In Manchester, 150,000 people braved the wet weather to line the route wearing gold hats and waving the union jack. 400 athletes gathered at the procession.
A further estimated 60,000 people were expected at the “Heroes Return” parade in Trafalgar Square, with a number of athletes addressing the crowd and thanking them for their support.
Team GB took home 67 Olympic medals and 147 Paralympic medals which surpassed the medal haul from London 2012, and also set a Great Britain Olympic record.
London Mayor Sadiq Kahn paid tribute to the athletes, who he says “inspired millions.” The athletes also attended a reception at Buckingham Palace, where they were joined by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and The Queen.
The parade ended in with athletes dancing to a live performance by British pop rock band The Vamps.
While the athletes and fans were greeted with rain in Manchester, the weather in London was more pleasant but both parades were a well-deserved celebration for athletes. Manchester was chosen for the first parade, which has become a centre for GB’s cyclists since 1994.
The #GBHeroesLDN celebrations were picture perfect! ??
— Team GB (@TeamGB) October 19, 2016
Earlier in October, heptathlon star Jessica Ennis-Hill announced her retirement from athletics. The 30-year old, who was an integral part of London 2012’s GB success, took home gold four years ago and won silver in Rio.
In a post on social media, the double world champion said it was “one of the toughest decisions” she’s ever made, adding that she has no regrets. Ennis-Hill will go down as one of the greatest Team GB athletes of all time.
Ennis-Hill, who was one of the faces of the London Olympics, cited that she always wanted to end her career on a high and while she would have been disappointed that she did not retain her Olympic title, injury fears and ending her career on a low prompted the retirement.
At the age of 30, it is understandable that her body would struggle to cope with the demands of top level athletics, especially in a sport like the heptathlon which demands so much.
She has had a few injuries in the last few years and fear of exacerbating this was the main reason for her retirement. While she says she will “sit back, relax and reflect” on what she has achieved, she does reiterate that she does not want to walk away from athletics.
While this is a sad day for British Olympics we should celebrate an amazing career and hope there are more athletes to follow her, fellow 24-year old heptathlon athlete Katerina Johnson-Thompson will be looking to fill the void.
Image courtesy of Al King via flickr.com
Video courtesy of youtube.com