Thousands turnout in Sheffield to give Team GB a special send-off

Sheffield born and based athletes were given a send off by the people of Sheffield in an event held in the Peace Gardens. Our picture shows table tennis players Paul Drinkhall and Joanna Parker.

Sheffield born and based athletes were given a send off by the people of Sheffield in an event held in the Peace Gardens. Our picture shows table tennis players Paul Drinkhall and Joanna Parker.

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THE city’s leg of the torch relay might be over, but the spirit of the Olympics show no signs of petering out in Sheffield.

Thousands of people turned out in the Peace Gardens yesterday to give members of Team GB - including Sheffield golden girl Jessica Ennis - a special Steel City send-off.

Athletes who hail from South Yorkshire took to the stage alongside those who are making the most of Sheffield’s top-rate sporting facilities ahead of the Games.

Great Britain’s volleyball, boxing, table tennis, diving and swimming teams were there to greet the well-wishers, along with Sheffield-based diver Nick Robinson-Baker and more homegrown talent in the form of swimmer Ellie Faulkner and volleyball player Rachel Layborn.

With just a month to go until London 2012 gets underway, the event highlighted Sheffield’s unique contribution to the Olympics.

The crowd cheered and clapped, but the biggest applause of all came when Jessica thanked the people of Sheffield for their support.

Lucy Vaughan, aged 27, of Hillsborough, was among the audience and said: “I’ve lived here for 10 years and I never realised how many teams were based here.

“As a mother it is great seeing what opportunities are available here. It makes it very exciting. I’m really looking forward to the Olympics.”

Sue Shuffleton, 61, of Waterthorpe, said: “This is bringing us closer to the London games. We applied for tickets but didn’t get any, we’ve taken our children to see the venues in London, and now we’re soaking it up here.

“We’re here for Jess because she’s such an inspiration - she’s a great representative of Sheffield and the people who live here with her sincerity and friendliness.”

Kirsty Middleton, 23, of Westfield, took her four-year-old niece Georgia along to wave off the stars.

She said: “I am Sheffield born and bred so it’s nice to see someone like Jessica Ennis up there. I went to watch the torch relay too and I really enjoyed it.”

Staff and service users from Addison Day Centre in Rotherham travelled to the city to be part of the send-off.

Rachel Laughton, a day centre officer, said: “We saw that it was happening and thought it would be nice to bring everyone along to see our connection to the Olympics. “