Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Golden boys and girls bask in the adulation of a million fans

British Olympic gold medal winning Heptathlete Jessica Ennis holds her gold medal as she takes part in the parade for Team GB and Paralympic GB athletes

The streets of London were packed with close to a million wellwishers who turned out to cheer Britain's sporting heroes in a last hurrah as the “golden summer of British sport” came to a close.

Coleraine’s Olympic silver medal winning rowers — brothers Richard and Peter Chambers — and single sculls bronze medallist Alan Campbell were roared on by the crowd, keen to honour Team GB’s inspiring sportsmen and women.

Paralympic runner Sally Brown from Ballykelly and archer Sharon Vennard from Newtownards were among the competitors smiling from the tops of 21 floats and honoured with a Red Arrows flypast over Buckingham Palace.

Pavements were thronged with thousands of people, while others leaned out of windows and from balconies to cheer the sportsmen and women.

Olympic and Paralympic stars including Jessica Ennis, Sir Chris Hoy, Ellie Simmonds and Jonnie Peacock proudly wore their medals as they waved to fans from the open-top floats which wound their way through the streets.

For the moment, Richard Chambers’ medal “lives in the sock drawer”.

“Loads of people have seen it. I have it on me quite often. If people ask me for it, I show it. I don’t walk about with it on my neck,” he said.

“It lives in the sock drawer. I’m not too sure where I will keep it. It’s the least likely place for anyone to look.”

Richard said he had been overwhelmed by the attention he has received since winning a silver medal alongside his brother Peter in the lightweight men's four.

“What’s quite amazing is listening to people’s stories now of watching races, where they watched races, where they watched the events and the atmosphere wherever they where,” he said.

Richard said he hopes young people in Northern Ireland and beyond have been inspired by his success.

“The main thing for London 2012 is to inspire a generation’,” he said.

“It’s been really exciting hearing people say ‘you’ve got me involved in rowing’ or even the people that have got off the sofa and gone for run, that’s great to hear.

“We need to get younger kids into sport and once they are there, encourage them and let them enjoy it.”

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