Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes have been honoured with a flypast over Buckingham Palace, after a victory parade through London.
Thousands of spectators have lined the Mall, the day after the end of the London 2012 Paralympics.
Courtesy of bbc
Rower Kath Grainger said “we could never have expected this” and swimmer Ellie Simmonds said it was “amazing”.
Some 800 competitors are now watching a celebration of music and speeches.
The event near the Queen Victoria Memorial kicked off with a flypast, led by the BA plane that brought the Olympic flame to the UK. It also featured the Red Arrows, performers, included Amy MacDonald and Pet Shop Boys, and speeches from athletes and the prime minister.
‘Greatest in the world’
Six-time gold medal-winning cyclist Sir Chris Hoy said: “I just didn’t think it was possible to see so many people out on the streets supporting us… I want to say thank you.
“It’s been emotional… If you have to end an Olympic career anywhere this is the place to do it.”
During the event, Prime Minister David Cameron expressed his thanks to the athletes – who he called “the heroes”.
He told them: “You have given us moments that we will never forget. The whole country salutes your brilliance.”
Mr Cameron also thanked “all those who made this possible”, including volunteers, the police, and the servicemen and women, who “proved again that you are the greatest in the world”.
“Let that spirit that delivered these Games… live on for generations to come.”
The prime minister introduced Princess Anne, president of the British Olympic Association. She told the crowd: “What a pleasure it has been to be president of BOA for a home Olympic Games.
“To see so many faces out there of the people who have been critical to producing the stages, platforms and support for these athletes is fantastic. This has been a really remarkable period of time.”
Cyclist Sarah Storey said: “The athletes want to thank all the UK as without them we couldn’t have done what we did to bring home all this bling.”
More than 90% of Britain’s medallists, including Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis, and Jonnie Peacock, paraded on 21 open-top floats through the city.
They were grouped by their sports – and travelled in alphabetical order with archers and athletes on the first floats, and weightlifters and the water polo team at the rear.
Speaking from her float, Olympic gold medallist in double sculls rowing Grainger said: “We never really knew how many people would turn up, maybe we thought people would have gone back to work or been fatigued by the last month. But my word, we could never have expected this.
“It is an amazing time to have a celebration with the Paralympic athletes too and a chance to say thank you to all the fans.”
London 2012 double bronze medallist Rebecca Adlington – who has been travelling on the swimming float – said: “It’s very noisy and crazy down here. We’re not far in yet – we’re on number 17 so we’re quite far at the back. It is incredible. It is so loud.”
From the equestrian float, GB rider Zara Phillips said: “This is unbelievable. To think everyone has come out for all of us is just amazing. We are so grateful to them.”
Paralympic swimmer Simmonds said: “It’s amazing… to celebrate with the public, who are the ones that helped us have that home advantage during the Games.”
An area along The Mall, overlooking the parade finish, was reserved for ticket-holders who made “an invaluable contribution to the Games and the success of our athletes”, including 14,000 volunteers, members of the emergency services, military personnel, competitors’ coaches, support staff, family and friends, as well as schoolchildren from every London borough.
Olympic diving bronze medallist Tom Daley said: “Today really for me is about, and for the whole team, about going round and giving something back to all the sporting fans, all the people that supported us at the Olympic Games, at the Paralympic Games.
“Hopefully, if we get lots of people out here today, it just really does give you a last kick of the Olympic buzz before it all finishes.”
The parade marked the end of eight weeks of Olympic and Paralympic events, which have put London at the centre of the sporting world.
In both the Olympics and Paralympics, the British teams finished third in the medals table. Team GB’s Olympians notched up 29 golds, 17 silvers and 19 bronzes. Their Paralympian counterparts collected 34 golds, 43 silvers and 43 bronzes.