CALLS have been made to ensure the Capital’s Commonwealth Games heroes are given a fitting tribute in the city after they helped Team Scotland to a record medal haul in Glasgow.
Athletes from Edinburgh and the Lothians contributed massively to the event, but there are still no firm plans for a public welcome in the Capital.
An open-top bus tour, a parade along Princes Street and a stage appearance at the fireworks finale of the Fringe have all been mooted as suitable ways to mark the occasion.
Prior to the Games athletes were invited to a private “evening celebration” in Edinburgh by Lord Provost Donald Wilson where they will be presented with a “commemorative gift” on behalf of the people of the city.
But there were calls today for more to be done to ensure the people of Edinburgh were able to come out and salute the sporting stars. Terry McCormack, head coach of Lochend Boxing Club where medallist Josh Taylor trains, said: “There should be a celebration to acknowledge them, definitely.
“This is a massive tournament with competitors from all over the world. When you think of the work they have put in over the years, they deserve it.
“They are competing against world-class opposition and deserve every accolade they get.
“This would be amazing, even just an open-top bus along Princes Street or along the Royal Mile or down Leith Walk. We have beaten our medal record and I’m sure everyone would come out. It would be massive.”
Gillian Hepburn, president of the Warrender Baths Club, suggested that any celebration could tie in with the climax of the Festival.
She said: “An open-top bus or a parade through the town would be great. But combining a celebration with a major public event like the fireworks display at the end of the Festival would be a great way to say ‘thank you’ to the athletes.
“When you think about how many people turn out to that, it would be a great opportunity to bring the athletes out and have the people of the city recognise them. You could invite them on stage.”
She added that any public recognition should not be held “too far” from the close of the Games but while it was still fresh in the public imagination.
Scottish judo expert George Kerr CBE, a 10th Dan in the sport and a man who worked with gold medal winner Euan Burton ahead of the Games, said it was a “wonderful idea” but added: “It would take a lot of organisation, and I don’t know how it could be achieved.” Cllr Steve Cardownie, the City’s Festivals and Events Champion, said he thought there “might be an opportunity” for members of the public to meet the athletes.
He said this could take the form of a parade or a meet and greet outside the City Chambers following the private reception. He added: “It would be difficult because you wouldn’t know how many people to cater for, and it would obviously have to be restricted in some way. But there may be a plan to have some kind of parade like we did the last time with Sir Chris Hoy when Edinburgh athletes were able to show off any medals and celebrate the fact they have been in the Games.
“Their excellent performance in the Commonwealth Games should be recognised in some way and they should be rewarded by the city for their efforts. I will discuss it with the athletes and, if that’s what they wanted, then the council could facilitate that to happen.”
Edinburgh-born rugby legend Scott Hastings said he would like to see a reception for the athletes not just in Glasgow but on a tour throughout Scotland, including his home city. He added: “Why should we restrict this to one city? The Queen’s Baton Relay touched so many people.”
The Lothian roll of honour
Dan Wallace: swimming, men’s 400m individual medley; Craig Maclean (with Neil Fachie): cycling, men’s tandem 1m time trial B and men’s tandem sprint B; Sarah Clark: judo, women’s 63kg; Euan Burton: judo, men’s 100kg; Sarah Adlington: judo, women’s +78kg; Chris Sherrington: judo, men’s +100kg; Alex Marshall (with Paul Foster): bowls, men’s pairs and, with David Peacock, Neil Speirs and Paul Foster, men’s fours: Josh Taylor, men’s Light Welterweight, boxing
Louise Haston (with Aileen McGlynn): cycling, women’s tandem sprint B and women’s tandem 1km time trial B; Michael Jamieson: swimming, men’s 200m breaststroke; Matthew Purssey: judo, men’s 90kg; Dan Wallace: swimming, men’s 200m individual medley, and, with Duncan Scott, Stephen Milne and Robbie Renwick, men’s 4x200m medley freestyle; Adam Cox (with Frank Baines, Liam Davie, Daniel Keatings and Daniel Purves): gymnastics, men’s artistic team all-round; Jen McIntosh: shooting, women’s 50m rifle three positions; Eilidh Child: athletics, women’s 400m hurdles; Lynsey Sharp: athletics, women’s 800m
John Buchanan: judo, men’s 60kg; James Millar: judo, men’s 66kg; Sally Conway: judo, women’s 70kg; Corrie Scott, swimming, women’s 50m breaststroke; Andrew Burns: judo, men’s 90kg; Angus McLeod (with Ian Shaw): shooting, Queen’s prize pairs; Jen McIntosh: shooting, women’s 50m rifle prone