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SBD Global/September 11, 2012/Olympics

Nearly 1 Million Turn Out To Cheer British Olympians On Streets Of London

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Close to 1 million people filled the streets of London for Monday's Olympic parade.
London Mayor Boris Johnson described Monday's Olympic Parade in the streets of London as the "final tear sodden juddering climax" to a summer of sport, according to Alice Philipson of the London TELEGRAPH. Johnson praised the athletes for "bringing the nation together," as athletes aboard floats received "rapturous applause" as he gave a speech at the end of the parade. Johnson: "We say thank you to the Armed Services and the police and G4S and all the people who work for them. We should thank the people without whom the last six weeks would not have made sense and not have been possible: the most successful team of athletes this country has ever assembled." He added, "My God, there's a lot of you. Every single one of you -- this was your achievement, you brought this country together in a way we never expected." It is estimated that 1 million people lined the streets of London and many "carried many banners and placards, with messages to the athletes" (TELEGRAPH, 9/10). REUTERS' Rizzo & Holton reported that Prime Minister David Cameron said the success of the athletes and the praise from visitors around the world "had given the country a huge boost." Cameron: "It's brought the country together. I think 2012 will be like 1966 ... something that will continue to delight us long after this time has passed," he said, referring to England's sole victory at the soccer World Cup" (REUTERS, 9/10).

ATHLETES GIVE THANKS: In London, Philippe Naughton reported that Olympics and Paralympics athletes Jessica Ennis, Chris Hoy, Hannah Cockcroft 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 traveled on 21 floats, grouped in alphabetical order by their sport. Athletes "humbly insisted the procession was also there to recognise spectators for their support during the Games." Hoy said: “This isn’t really for us this is for them because they’ve made the Games. They’ve made the atmosphere, they’ve supported the athletes, not just in the venues, but through the streets, and the pubs, the public venues, it’s been incredible." Ennis said, “We’ve had so much support through the past few weeks, every session was filled with cheering British fans, so now to come out and see another huge crowd and thank everyone is going to be really special for all of us” (LONDON TIMES, 9/10). Also in London, James Pickford wrote that the convoy of 21 floats was headed by "two giant animated lion heads," which traveled from Mansion House to The Mall, supported by London Games volunteers and marching bands. Spectators "eager for a view of their sporting heroes leaned from office windows" outside Cannon Street in the Square Mile and roared their support for distance runner Mo Farah, the double-Gold Medalist traveling in the first float while giving his signature "Mobot" gesture (FINANCIAL TIMES, 9/10).

HEAPING PRAISE: In a column in the London INDEPENDENT under the header "Farewell to Games that exceeded all our hopes," Emily Dugan wrote, "Records have been smashed, expectations exceeded. Nations have roared and wept. London 2012 has been, by any standards, a Games-changer. After 27 days of world-class sport from 15,114 athletes, watched by billions across the planet, even Australians have admitted London 2012 trumped the triumph of Sydney, widely considered -- until now -- to be the greatest modern Olympics" (INDEPENDENT, 9/9). In a column in the London GUARDIAN under the header "London 2012 parade seals memories to carry us through bleaker autumn," Richard Williams wrote, "It was the day when the leaves of London's plane trees seemed to have turned brown overnight, as if by mutual consent, and a cooler breeze blew through the ancient streets. Autumn had come, and with it the end of a symphony of sport in two majestic movements. But not before a joyous coda, in the form of a celebratory parade, had sealed the memories of all the marvellous deeds of the past six weeks." He added, "All the heroes were present, along with those whose heroism was restricted to the considerable satisfaction of having taken part, every one of them now little lower than the angels in the nation's esteem" (GUARDIAN, 9/10).
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