CITY leaders have vowed the Capital will welcome home Sir Chris Hoy and other Olympic heroes despite fears official celebrations will take place elsewhere.
Glasgow and Stirling are understood to be the frontrunners to hold a parade in honour of the likes of Katherine Grainger and Michael Jamieson, with the event set to take place only once the Paralympic Games are over.
The Scottish Government has not confirmed any plans for the athletes’ homecoming, but Glasgow is reportedly the most likely destination, with politicians looking to capitalise on the upcoming Commonwealth Games in 2014 and Hampden’s role in hosting Olympic football.
It has also been suggested that First Minister Alex Salmond will then hold a reception in Stirling, leaving the Capital without an official celebration, despite the success of a parade along the Royal Mile after the Beijing Games in 2008.
However, deputy city council leader Steve Cardownie today said plans were in place for a civic reception in the Capital followed by a parade, regardless of ministers’ decision. Councillor Cardownie told the Evening News the council would “dearly love” to host a similar procession and insisted Edinburgh was the obvious choice, but said he understood that Glasgow also had a strong case.
He said: “We have a motion to the council calling for a civic reception and I imagine we would tie in a parade with that.
“We are ready and would dearly love to host a parade as we did the last time. You would expect a parade of Scottish athletes to be held in the capital city, but it is a matter for the Scottish Government to determine the venue.”
And he said of Glasgow’s case for holding the parade: “Everyone wants the Commonwealth Games to be successful and they see this as a launchpad.”
But he said nothing would take place until after the Paralympics, so both sets of athletes could be honoured together, adding that an immediate parade would be difficult in any case because the city was so busy with the Festival. He said: “We still hope to host the Scotland-wide celebrations and we are pressing on with our own plans, which would complement the national ones.”
This news was welcomed by Scottish Conservative Lothians MSP Gavin Brown, who said: “Something should happen for Sir Chris Hoy in Edinburgh, based on the totality of his achievements spanning several Olympic Games, but particularly the most recent ones where he carried the flag for Team GB and led the way in the velodrome. It is only right that the people of Edinburgh get a chance to celebrate this accolade with him.”
SNP MSP Jim Eadie said: “I think there is an opportunity when Sir Chris Hoy is given the Freedom of Edinburgh to celebrate the achievements of all athletes.”
Labour Edinburgh North and Leith MP Mark Lazarowicz called on the Scottish Government to make a swift decision. He said: “People are expecting the parade as soon as possible after the Olympics, all the tooing and froing is getting ridiculous. If this was one of the city’s football teams, the parade would have been held the next day.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Plans for appropriate celebrations of our Scottish Olympians and Paralympians are currently under development and we are in touch with relevant bodies and athletes on these plans.”
Game on for champs at Hibs and Hearts
GOLD medals are one thing Sir Chris Hoy and Andy Murray have in common – but when it comes to football they’re definitely on opposite sides of the fence.
But now the Scots Olympic heroes are being invited home to parade their prizes to fellow fans at their favourite Capital clubs.
Hearts have offered Sir Chris the chance to celebrate on the pitch at Tynecastle ahead of next Thursday’s European clash with Liverpool, while Murray has been handed an open invitation to perform a lap of honour at Easter Road.
A spokesperson for Hearts said: “To win six gold medals was an incredible achievement and we hope Sir Chris will be able to take up our invitation to attend. He will be assured of a very warm welcome.”
A spokesman for Hibs said: “It was brilliant to see Andy Murray win the Olympic gold medal for tennis – he supports Hibernian and we want to support him. We will be getting in touch with Andy and his family to invite them to a match.”
EDINBURGH has more than a fair claim to brand itself the “Capital of Sport”.
While Glasgow might be hosting the Commonwealth Games and is the venue of the national football stadium, the Capital is home to a much wider range of sports facilities.
We’ve got the home of rugby in the shape of Murrayfield and an Olympic-sized swimming pool being borrowed for the 2014 sporting extravaganza.
We can stick it to our west-coast neighbours by boasting the National Hockey Academy at Edinburgh University’s Peffermill and in tennis the Craiglockghart tennis club is the former venue of a Wimbledon warm-up event featuring the likes of John McEnroe, who is set to return next year in a legends tournament.
Cricket Scotland, which is the governing body of the sport, is based at the National Cricket Academy in Ravelston, while less run-of -the-mill sports are also catered for, such as rock climbing at the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena at Ratho.
Edinburgh Leisure runs a whole host of sports grounds, swimming pools and other leisure facilities around the city, including six public golf courses.
And, last but not least, this city can boast not one, but two football clubs in the Scottish Premier League.