Belfast Telegraph

Monday 26 January 2015

Thousands turn out to celebrate Britain's Olympic and Paralympic heroes

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: British Olympic gold medal winning Heptathlete Jessica Ennis holds her gold medal as she takes part in the parade passing Royal Courts of Justice during the London 2012 Victory Parade for Team GB and Paralympic GB athletes on September 10, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by David Davies - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Boxer Nicola Adams holds her gold medal as she takes part in a parade through London, celebrating Britain's Olympic and Paralympic sporting heroes
A general view of the crowd in the City of London, as a parade celebrating Britain's Olympic and Paralympic sporting heroes makes its way through London
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: British Olympic swimmer gold medalist Rebecca Adlington waves to the crowd during the London 2012 Victory Parade for Team GB and Paralympic GB athletes on September 10, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: The Victory Parade passes along Fleet Street during the London 2012 Victory Parade for Team GB and Paralympic GB athletes on September 10, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Bethany Clarke/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: The Victory Parade passes along Fleet Street during the London 2012 Victory Parade for Team GB and Paralympic GB athletes on September 10, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Bethany Clarke/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: The crowd cheers during the London 2012 Victory Parade for Team GB and Paralympic GB athletes on September 10, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Performers of The Victory Parade pass along Fleet Street during the London 2012 Victory Parade for Team GB and Paralympic GB athletes on September 10, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Bethany Clarke/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Gymnasts Beth Tweedle and Louis Smith smile during the London 2012 Victory Parade for Team GB and Paralympic GB athletes on September 10, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
Three Day Eventer Zara Phillips holds her silver medal as she takes part in a parade through London, celebrating Britain's Olympic and Paralympic sporting heroes
Diver Tom Daley holds his bronze medal as he takes part in a parade through London, celebrating Britain's Olympic and Paralympic sporting heroes
Three Day Eventer Zara Phillips and diver Tom Daley smile as they take part in a parade through London, celebrating Britain's Olympic and Paralympic sporting heroes
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: The crowd cheers during the London 2012 Victory Parade for Team GB and Paralympic GB athletes on September 10, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: British quadruple gold medal winning Paralympian David Weir shows his four gold medals as he takes part in the London 2012 Victory Parade for Team GB and Paralympic GB athletes on September 10, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by David Davies - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: British Olympic gold medal winning archer Danielle Brown holds her gold medal and waves to the crowd during the London 2012 Victory Parade for Team GB and Paralympic GB athletes on September 10, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: British Olympic gold medal winning cyclists Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton wave to the fans during the London 2012 Victory Parade for Team GB and Paralympic GB athletes on September 10, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
Dwain Chambers waves to the crowds as he takes part in a parade through London, celebrating Britain's Olympic and Paralympic sporting heroes
Boxer Luke Campbell holds his gold medal as he takes part in a parade through London, celebrating Britain's Olympic and Paralympic sporting heroes
Swimmer Ellie Simmonds waves during a parade celebrating Britain's Olympic and Paralympic sporting heroes, Mansion House, London
Sir Chris Hoy waves to the crowds during a parade passed Mansion House, London, celebrating Britain's Olympic and Paralympic sporting heroes
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Triathletes Jonathan Brownlee and Alistair Brownlee show their medals to the crowd during the London 2012 Victory Parade for Team GB and Paralympic GB athletes on September 10, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: British Olympic gold medal winning athlete Greg Rutherford holds his long jump gold medal as he takes part in the parade passing St Paul's Cathedral during the London 2012 Victory Parade for Team GB and Paralympic GB athletes on September 10, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by David Davies - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Gymnasts Beth Tweddle (left) and Louis Smith wave to the crowds as they take part in a parade through London, celebrating Britain's Olympic and Paralympic sporting heroes.
Mo Farah takes part in a parade through London, celebrating Britain's Olympic and Paralympic sporting heroes.
British Olympic gold medal winning cyclist Victoria Pendleton waves to the fans during the London 2012 Victory Parade for Team GB and Paralympic GB athletes on September 10, 2012 in London, England.
British Paralympic gold medal winning wheelchair athlete David Weir wears his four gold medals as he waves to the fans during the London 2012 Victory Parade for Team GB and Paralympic GB athletes on September 10, 2012 in London, England.
British Olympic gold medal winning archer Danielle Brown holds her gold medal and waves to the crowd during the London 2012 Victory Parade for Team GB and Paralympic GB athletes on September 10, 2012 in London, England.
Swimmer Ellie Simmonds waves during a parade celebrating Britain's Olympic and Paralympic sporting heroes, Mansion House, London.
Diver Tom Daley holds his Bronze medal during a parade celebrating Britain's Olympic and Paralympic sporting heroes, Mansion House, London.
Heptathlete Jessica Ennis takes part in a parade passed the Royal Courts of Justice, London, celebrating Britain's Olympic and Paralympic sporting heroes.
Jonathan (left) and Alistair Brownlee wave to the crowds wearing their medals during a parade celebrating Britain's Olympic and Paralympic sporting heroes, near Mansion House, London.
Triathletes Jonathan (left) and Alistair Brownlee hold their medals as they take part in a parade through London, celebrating Britain's Olympic and Paralympic sporting heroes
Boxer Luke Campbell holds his gold medal as he takes part in a parade through London, celebrating Britain's Olympic and Paralympic sporting heroes.
Dwain Chambers waves to the crowds as he takes part in a parade through London, celebrating Britain's Olympic and Paralympic sporting heroes.
Crowds line the route of the Great Britain Athletes Victory Parade, outside the Mansion House in central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday September 10, 2012. See PA story PARALYMPICS London. Photo credit should read: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire
Crowds line the route of the Great Britain Athletes Victory Parade, outside the Mansion House in central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday September 10, 2012. See PA story PARALYMPICS London. Photo credit should read: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire
Crowds with flags line the route of the Great Britain Athletes Victory Parade near St Paul's Cathedral, central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday September 10, 2012. See PA story PARALYMPICS London. Photo credit should read: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire
Crowds line the route of the Great Britain Athletes Victory Parade, outside the Mansion House in central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday September 10, 2012. See PA story PARALYMPICS London. Photo credit should read: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire
A gamesmaker wears a Rio 2016 inspired hat along route of the Great Britain Athletes Victory Parade, outside the Mansion House in central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday September 10, 2012. See PA story PARALYMPICS London. Photo credit should read: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Fireworks illuminate the sky above the Olympic Park during the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Singer Rihanna performs during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Singer Rihanna performs during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Mayor of London Boris Johnson, President of the IPC Sir Philip Craven MBE and Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes perform the Paralympic flag handover ceremonyduring the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Singer Rihanna performs during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Mayor of London Boris Johnson, President of the IPC Sir Philip Craven MBE and Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes perform the Paralympic flag handover ceremonyduring the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: (L-R) Mayor of London Boris Johnson, President of the IPC Sir Philip Craven MBE and Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes perform the Paralympic flag handover ceremonyduring the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Singer Rihanna performs during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: A general view during the Closing Ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: A general view during the Closing Ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Swimmer Eleanor Simmonds of Great Britain enjoys the atmosphere with fellow Team GB Paralympians during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Fireworks light up the stadium as dancers perform during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Chris Martin of Coldplay performs during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Rihanna, Jay-Z and Chris Martin of Coldplay perform during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Swimmer Eleanor Simmonds and athlete Jonnie Peacock light torches from the flame of the Paralympic cauldron as it is extinguished during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Mayor of London Boris Johnson, President of the IPC Sir Philip Craven MBE and Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes perform the Paralympic flag handover ceremony during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Mayor of London Boris Johnson, President of the IPC Sir Philip Craven MBE and Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes perform the Paralympic flag handover ceremony during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Fireworks illuminate the sky above the Olympic Park during the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Paralympians enjoy the atmosphere during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Fireworks light up the stadium during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Artists representing Rio 2016 peform during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Artists representing Rio 2016 peform during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Fireworks light up the stadium during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Spectators leave the stadium after the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Dancers perform under water spray during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: LOCOG Chairman Lord Sebastian Coe addresses the crowd as President of the IPC Sir Philip Craven MBE looks on during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: President of the IPC Sir Philip Craven MBE addresses the crowd asLOCOG Chairman Lord Sebastian Coe looks on during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Fireworks illuminate the sky above the Olympic Park after the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Fireworks light up the stadium during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Fireworks light up the stadium during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: A general view of the show during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Fireworks light up the stadium during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Jay-Z and Rihanna perform during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Fireworks light up the stadium during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Jay-Z performs during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Fireworks light up the stadium as dancers perform during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Paralympians enjoy the atmosphere during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Jay-Z and Rihanna perform during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Jay-Z and Rihanna perform with Will Champion and Chris Martin of Coldplay (L) during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: (L-R) Chris Martin, Will Champion, Jonny Buckland and Guy Berryman of Coldplay perform during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: (L-R) Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland and Guy Berryman of Coldplay perform during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Paralympians leave the stadium after the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Paralympians leave the stadium after the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
The closing ceremony of the Paralympics has been dubbed the Festival of Flame
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Singer Rihanna performs during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Singer Rihanna performs during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Fireworks light up the stadium during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Circus artists perform using a motorcycle during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Athlete David Weir and cyclist Sarah Storey of Great Britain carry the flag join fellow flagbearers during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: (R-L) Guy Berryman, Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland of Coldplay perform during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Lance Corporal Rory Mackenzie addresses the crowd during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: (L-R) Mayor of London Boris Johnson, former mayor Ken Livingstone and Labour leader Ed Miliband pose at the Olympic Stadium as they attend the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Paralympic Games, on September 09, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: (L-R) Will Champion, Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland and Guy Berryman of Coldplay perform during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and President of the IPC Sir Philip Craven MBE arrive in the arena during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (R) look on during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: A heart of flames is displayed on the arena floor during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Captain Luke Sinnott climbs to hang the Union Flag during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Flame throwers light up the arena during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Athlete David Weir and cyclist Sarah Storey of Great Britain carry the flag join fellow flagbearers during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and President of the IPC Sir Philip Craven MBE observe the National Anthem during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: The Paralympic cauldron flame burns during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Clouds move accross the evening sky above the Olympic Park ahead of the the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: The sun sets over the Olympic Park ahead of the the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Circus artists perform using a motorcycle during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Pyrotechnics burn during the closing ceremony
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Rihanna performs with Chris Martin of Coldplay during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Rihanna performs with Chris Martin of Coldplay during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Rihanna performs with Chris Martin of Coldplay during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Rihanna performs with Chris Martin of Coldplay during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Paralympians enjoy the atmosphere during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Rihanna performs with Chris Martin of Coldplay during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Chris Martin (R) and Will Champion of Coldplay perform during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Chris Martin of Coldplay performs during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

The greatest show on earth, as it has become customary to call it, finally came to an end with the grandest lap of honour. Hundreds of thousands of people filled London's streets, 30 deep in many places, on a windy, occasionally drizzly afternoon, for one last look at their Olympic heroes.

More than 800 athletes, very nearly every Olympic and Paralympic competitor, filled 21 floats that left from Mansion House in the City of London at lunchtime, and slowly made their way through the City, past St Paul's Cathedral and down the Strand. Crowds poured into every conceivable inch of pavement space, packing the entrance to the Savoy Hotel. Trafalgar Square, so often the centre piece of such occasions, appeared as packed as it could conceivably be. "We were here in 2005, when we won the bid," said Christine Horton, who was there with her daughter, Grace. "Well I was, she wasn't born. And now we're here again. I don't think anyone knew in 2005 it'd be like this. It's magical."



When Mo Farah arrived on the first of the floats, and placed his hands on his head to form what is now known as the "Mobot", Christine, Grace, and everyone else, went more than a little bit crazy.



Lining The Mall as the parade came to its final stop outside Buckingham Palace were 1,500 Games Ambassadors, in their pink and purple uniforms, hundreds of whom signed away their summers to not even catch a glimpse of any sporting action, instead working at Heathrow and Gatwick airports.



The floats were led in by grinning police officers on horseback, Paralympic Games accreditations still hanging round their necks, who waved and joked with the crowd – a scene representative of the unique mood in the capital for the past six weeks.



Ellie Simmonds waved at the crowds, as did Sarah Storey. Several of the athletes on the floats held up handmade signs reading "No, Thank YOU" and "You Made The Games". The Brownlee brothers hung off the back of their float to pose for photographs, and Katherine Grainger, the 36-year-old rower who won silver in Sydney, Athens and Beijing, and finally gold in London, was trying but by and large failing to hold back tears.



With the full Olympic and Paralympic teams assembled on steps at the Queen Victoria Memorial, in front of an invited crowd of police officers, service personnel, G4S guards (thousands of whom have done a very good job this summer), Locog and British Olympic Association staff, David Cameron said thanks to everyone involved in the London Games. "Thank you to the athletes, you've given us a gold summer for British sport and you've made us all so proud. The whole country salutes your brilliance," he said.



"And thank you to all those who made this possible, Seb Coe and his team, the police who kept us safe and to our service men and women who stepped up so magnificently, you proved again you are the best in the world. And to all of you who turned London into a city of smiling faces, you turned this is into the greatest Games ever.



"This is the great British summer, that will be remembered for many years to come. Let the spirit that brought this country together, let that spirit live on for generations to come."



The last word fell to the Mayor, Boris Johnson, who as has so often been the case this summer, rather stole the show. The crowds even chanted "Boris! Boris!" before he began. "You showed every child in this country that success is not just about talent and luck but about grit and guts and hard work and coming back, and you showed fantastic grace in victory and amazing courage in defeat," he said. "And speaking as a spectator, 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. Above all you brought home the truth about us and about this country – that when we put our minds to it there is no limit to what Britain can achieve."



How long the Olympic spirit will stick around for is impossible to know, but while athletes were parading through the streets, figures released by the Local Government Association showed that in its survey of more than 400 leisure facilities, crowds are already arriving in bigger numbers at public swimming pools, gymnastics classes and cycling venues. It is an auspicious start.



Many athletes were quick to point out that the parade was about the crowd, not about them, but they seemed to enjoy themselves anyway. "It is crazy, the amount of support that is there, I really didn't expect this number of people to turn out," said Tom Daly, the 18-year-old diving bronze medallist. Asked if he'd had doubts about what many have seen as giving up his teenage years, he said: "This is what I have always dreamed of, winning an Olympic medal. All the hard work, all the sacrifice, it has been worth it. Look at this," he said, gesturing towards the crowds.



Ellie Simmonds, who won four Paralympics medals, said: "It was great to celebrate and be part of the Closing Ceremony last night; it was unbelievable. It is amazing the support they gave us during the Olympic and Paralympic Games. To celebrate with the public here, the ones who helped us have the home advantage."



After a flypast from the Firefly, the gold-painted plane that brought the flame from Athens four months ago, with the words "Thank You" newly painted on the undercarriage, the Red Arrows did their thing. As 800 ecstatic athletes celebrated in their Union flag tracksuits, a couple of red, white and blue ticker-tape cannons went off, and that was it, the end.



Views from the streets: the people's verdict



Lucio Buffone, 37 London, freelancer: "I came along today because it's been such a fun summer in London and I had to give it closure. It was sad in that respect. What was amazing was how many medals there were. It was insane. It was a good opportunity to say thank you for the sheer joy and excitement of the summer."



Sharon Eldred, 38, Archway, nurse: "My favourite bit was the atmosphere and the crowd and everyone being really friendly. I didn't realise that the volunteers were going to be part of the parade and seeing them at the end was really good. It was a nice thank you to them. I think that some of the biggest cheers were reserved for them."



Micheline McAteer, 44, Hornsey, aromatherapist: "The atmosphere was indescribable. I really hope that we can keep it going. We've been caught up in the emotion and excitement of the day but I hope that we can maintain it and put it to good use. This has definitely changed our attitudes towards disabled people. I've worked with people with learning disabilities for more than 20 years and I think it's amazing what England has done to bring disabled athletes to the forefront and for people to look at them as athletes and not as disabled people. The British public deserves credit for that."



Robert, 35, London, animator: "It was a case of putting some real personal connection to what can just be TV otherwise. I've never been to a victory parade before but I instinctively knew that I had to be here. My one complaint is that there were signs with the gold stamps for the big stars to hold, which I thought was a bit tacky. I think that there's already an inclination to focus on the celebrities which we create ourselves and I don't think that needs reinforcing".



Harry Cocking, 7, Lincolnshire: "I've been here a long time, we had to get up early. We saw Claire Cashmore and Mo Farah. It was very busy and very noisy when everyone was going past."



Archie Cocking, 5, Lincolnshire: "I liked the Olympics. I'd give it one million out of one million."



Jocelyn Jenner, 71, Pitlochry, retired: "I'm very proud to be down here from Scotland. It's absolutely amazing; from start to finish it has been run superbly. The whole event is absolutely wonderful, the Olympic Park is wonderful, the stadium; it's just sheer magic. Today has just been a wonderful celebration."



Views from the floats



"We never knew how many would turn up. But my word, we could never have expected this" - Kath Grainger, Rowing gold medallist



"I am so proud of the British public to come out and watch Paralympic sport and embrace it" - Lee Pearson, Dressage star with 10 Paralympic gold medals



"It's nuts, I've never seen anything like it. I'm proud. The whole nation has done a fantastic job" - Ben Ainslie, Four-times gold medal winning sailor



"I didn't think it was possible to see so many supporters. I just want to say thank you" - Sir Chris Hoy, Six-times Olympic track cycling champion

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