Team Scotland relishes Games parade
The celebratory parade for Scotland's record-breaking Commonwealth Games team felt just as good as winning medals, athletes have said.
Almost 200 athletes boarded five open-top vehicles outside Kelvingrove Museum in the west end of Glasgow and travelled along packed streets with crowds cheering and waving flags as the parade made its way to George Square, where the team were welcomed on to a stage in front of a 5,000-strong crowd.
The athletes held signs saying ''thank-you Scotland'' and were greeted by a round of applause as they were led out of the grounds of Kelvingrove by a pipe band at about 4.15pm.
Arriving in George Square in front of a crowd largely made up of "Clydesider" Games volunteers, the athletes were welcomed on stage according to their sport and each was given a rapturous reception.
Bowler Alex Marshall, who won two gold medals and was the flag bearer for Team Scotland at the closing ceremony, found the parade emotional.
"Right from the word go today when we got on the floats at Kelvingrove, I've never experienced an atmosphere like it," the 47-year-old, who is nicknamed the "Messi of bowls", said.
"I've been bowling for the best part of 40 years and I've played across the world, but this send-off is sensational.
"The whole of Glasgow has been magnificent with the support of the athletes.
"I thought the atmosphere was fantastic at the venues but this beat everything, I've still got goosebumps yet, it's actually quite emotional."
The medal haul was a record for Team Scotland in the Games, winning 19 gold, 15 silver and 19 bronze, to finish fourth in the overall medal table.
Hammer bronze medallist Mark Dry said the parade was the perfect way to round off the athletes' experience.
He added: "Just like the Games, that (the parade) was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The streets were packed the whole way to George Square, which was amazing to see so full.
"The atmosphere was different but every bit as good as Hampden, and as good as when I went up to collect my medal.
"It's obviously different because I've not just competed and we're not in a stadium, but it's just as positive an experience and a great way to round off the whole event."
Some medal winners, such as Eilidh Child and Lynsey Sharp, were unable to take part in the parade because they are competing at the European Athletics Championships in Zurich, but others such as cyclists Neil Fachie and Craig Maclean, judo sisters Kimberley and Louise Renicks and swimmers Ross Murdoch and Erraid Davies were on board the vehicles.
Popular boxer Charlie Flynn, who won gold in the lightweight division and became an instant hit with his post-bout interview, also took part and received a loud cheer when introduced to the crowd in George Square.
Speaking before the parade set off, he said: "It's unbelievable, it's time to reunite with everybody again and see all the faces and get that buzz back.
"All the crowd behind you, it's too good. The support is too good.
"I'm looking forward to hearing the roar of the crowd and the fans, and reuniting with the public and everybody and the noise. It's going to be brilliant, I can't wait."
Many athletes praised the impact of the home crowd on their performances and they thanked fans as they took part in the parade through the city which hosted 11 days of sporting competition.
Kimberley Renicks, who secured Scotland's first gold medal of the Games with victory in the under 48kg judo final, said: "The parade is absolutely wonderful and a really great experience.
"I've never done anything like this before and see all the people who were actually supporting you and are still wanting you to do well."
Her sister Louise, who also won gold, said: "I think it's also good for some people who maybe didn't get to see any of the Games.
"There's going to be some people who come here today and get to see some of the athletes, or just waving can put a smile on their face.
"All through the Games it's been smiles all the way, so it will be good to finish it with smiles."
First Minister Alex Salmond described the parade as a "very well-deserved celebration".
He added: "The parade through the streets of Glasgow today is for the athletes of Team Scotland who, with their record medal haul, should rightly have the chance to party with their supporters and celebrate together in the overwhelming success of the Games."
Scotland fielded its largest-ever team at Glasgow 2014, made up of 310 athletes, with about 190 including cyclists, swimmers, hockey players and the lawn bowls team enjoying the parade.