Cheering crowds greet parade of Bath's Olympic and Paralympic heroes
Bath’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes were given a heroes’ welcome as they returned to the city today for a special parade.
Crowds of people lined the streets to congratulate athletes who train at the University of Bath as they toured the city in open-top bus decked out in TeamGB flags.
Athletes on the bus included swimmers Michael Jamieson and Stephanie Millward, modern pentathlete's Mhairi Spence, and Samantha Murray, the rhythmic gymnasts and sprinter Ben Rushgrove.
Silver medal winner Michael Jamieson said he was pleased to bring his medal back to Bath after his second place in the 200 metres breaststroke.
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He said: “It is great to be able to bring a silver medal back to Bath, and to show it off to all the people who have supported me.
“The reception is fantastic, and it is great to see so many people enthusiastic about sport.
"Bath is a brilliant place to train, the support I have received has been amazing.”
The tour gave paralympian sprinter Ben Rushgrove a chance to show off his bronze medal to the crowd.
Ben, who came third in the men’s T36 200 metres, said: “The parade in London on Monday was amazing but you don’t really see anyone you know.
“This is great as I recognise many people in the crowd, and it gives me a chance to thank everyone in my home city for their support.
“Behind every great athlete is a great support team, and the team at Bath are the best I could have asked for.
“Without the support of the team here in Bath we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
The day started with a reception at the University of Bath, where they were congratulated by pro-vice-chancellor for Learning and Teaching Bernard Morley.
He said: “You have lifted the spirit of the nation and we are all so proud of you.
“Congratulations, you are an inspiration, and this parade can show you how proud the people of Bath are of you.”
The bus left the university and travelled down Bathwick Street, along Great Pulteney Street and the High Street to Milsom Street, before passing through Lansdown Road and Bennett Street.
Rhythmic gymnasts Lynne Hutchison and Frankie Fox were delighted to be on the bus .
Lynne said: “Bath is such a great sports place, and we are proud to be on the bus.
“It is nice to see all the support we have, rather than just hear about it.”
Frankie described competing in the Olympics as ‘the best week of her life’.
“The Olympics was amazing, just insane really."
Modern pentathlete Mhairi Spence said: “The London parade was really great, but you are forever looking for someone that you know.
“Here I have seen some familiar faces in the crowd, which has made me smile. It is so nice to see all the support we have.”
People came from near and far to cheer on athletes.
Rachel Grothier, from Combe Down, brought her three children Isaac, ten, Hannah, eight, and Noah, six, to wave flags outside the Guild Hall.
She said: “We are all sports fans in our household.
“We wanted to come and support all the people from Bath whether they won a medal or not. We are so proud of all of them.”
Natalie Bayliss, 21, from Hinton Charterhouse, was joined by her parents Craig and Liz to cheer the open-top bus tour.
Natalie had just returned home after spending the summer working at the Excel Centre in London during the Olympic and Paralympic games.
She said: “It was a really good experience - once in a lifetime. I got to meet lots of athletes.
“I just wanted to come and support them one last time and give them a good send off.”
Friends Ellie Manaton, 19, Naomi Webber, 20, and Heather Chamberlain, 20, all from Bath, stood on New Bond Street armed with cameras ready to get a glimpse of the local sporting heroes.
Ellie said: “I pretty much watched all the Olympics and the medals. I was glued to the TV.
“I thought it would be great to come and cheer on all the people that were from Bath and did really well.”
Naomi, who trains in athletics at the University of Bath, said: “It’s nice to see all the people who train where I do. I want to keep celebrating this summer as long as I can.”
Julie Lukins and her daughter Becky, 18, travelled from Bristol to be part of the memorable event.
Mrs Lukins said: “When we heard it was on we decided we had to come and see the occasion.
“We saw some of the Olympics and it has brought such a great feeling to the country and brought everyone together.”
The parade, which was jointly organised by Bath and North east Somerset council and the University of Bath, finished at the Assembly Rooms.
Athletes were welcomed to a civic reception hosted by chairman of the council councillor Rob Appleyard.