SHEFFIELD’S Olympic queen Jessica Ennis wore her gold medal with pride as she helped to lead the huge procession of Britain’s sporting heroes through the streets of London, writes Graham Walker.
She said it was a chance for the athletes to thank the public.
“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,” said the Olympic heptathlon champ.
VIDEO: Press the play button to watch our video report of the parade.
Olympics and Paralympics stars including Sir Chris Hoy, Hannah Cockcroft and Jonnie Peacock also showed off their medals as they waved to fans from open-top floats which wound their way through streets full of fans.
Despite the Paralympics coming to a close with a rousing ceremony last night, the celebrations continued today with a carnival-like atmosphere in the city.
Around 800 athletes travelled on 21 floats, grouped in alphabetical order by their sport for The Greatest Team Parade.
But the stars of the Olympics’ Super Saturday - Ennis, Mo Farah, who won gold in both the 5,000m and 10,000m, and long jump champion Greg Rutherford - were in the first three floats, which departed from Mansion House in the City just after 1.30pm following a fanfare of trumpets.
The crowds, dozens deep in places, were a sea of red, white and blue as fans waved Union flags at the passing floats.
Many also held up home-made banners, with some donning patriotic fancy dress for the occasion.
But athletes humbly insisted the procession was also there to recognise spectators for their support during the Games.
Ahead of the parade setting off, 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.
“So it’s our chance to give them a wave and a thank you for all the support they’ve given us.”
The athletes were also dressed in red, white and blue as they wore their Team GB and ParalympicsGB outfits and waved Union flags as they passed supporters who loudly clapped and cheered.
Hoy, who was on a float with the rest of Team GB’s cycling stars including Jason Kenny, Laura Trott and Victoria Pendleton, smiled and held up his two gold medals as fans cheered.
The victory parade travelled along Queen Victoria Street and Cannon Street towards St Paul’s Cathedral, and was due to continue along Fleet Street, past Aldwych and into The Strand, before reaching Trafalgar Square.
Many of the sports stars, including Tom Daley and Trott, could be seen taking pictures of the crowd on their mobile phones.
Peter Wilson, Olympic gold medallist in double trap shooting, said: “It has been insane, absolutely insane. I’ve never been so busy in my life but it’s been amazing-busy, I’ve loved every minute of it.
“I was hoping for a medal but to win gold at home was a bit of a pipe dream. There’s a lot of pressure with it and I was just hoping to do my best to be honest.
“It (the parade) is going to be amazing, it’s going to be so, so special. Seeing so many people turning out here in this small area just here, it’s incredible.”
Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins has admitted he is disappointed not to be able to join his teammates as part of the celebration parade today but said he had to get on with his day job.
The gold medallist was in Nottingham this morning as the second leg of the Tour of Britain got under way and brushed aside any feelings of regret at not being in the capital.
“We’ve got our own parade to do this week so, you know, this is our day job,” he said.
“We don’t have the beauty of having a year off now because the cycling calendar is still going on.
“It would have been nice to have been there with the rest of the team but I think we’re all enjoying it this week.”