THE Scottish Government has refused to rule out suggestions that a proposed celebration parade for Scotland’s Olympic heroes would be held in Stirling.
Edinburgh and Glasgow have both been calling for the parade to be held on their home turf, with gold medal hero Sir Chris Hoy hailing from the Capital, and Glasgow set to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Reports yesterday, however, suggested that the VIP reception would instead be held in Stirling, as a compromise between the two cities.
The celebrations would include an event at Stirling Castle, hosted by First Minister Alex Salmond, and attended by cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, rower Katherine Grainger and swimmer Michael Jamieson.
When contacted by the Evening News, however, the Scottish Government would neither confirm nor deny the reports, saying only that “plans for appropriate celebrations of our Scottish Olympians and Paralympians are under development and details will be announced in due course”.
The suggestion of Stirling provoked bemused reactions from politicians in both Edinburgh and Glasgow, who said the issue was becoming politicised as a result of the continuing debate over the forthcoming independence referendum.
The celebration parade is likely to be attended by thousands keen to witness some the heroes of the London Games, although an event in Stirling would be likely to face accusations of restricting the number of people able to turn out.
After Beijing in 2008 Edinburgh hosted Scotland’s Olympians on an open-top bus parade which was mobbed by supporters from across the country, ahead of attending a reception at Edinburgh Castle.
Local politicians want to see a repeat of those scenes, saying the Capital was the natural city to host the event.
David Hamilton, Labour MP for Midlothian, told the Evening News: “Of course it should be held in Edinburgh, it’s the capital city, it should be from one capital city to another.
“Everyone is expecting Edinburgh to be the recipient of the medal parade. We shouldn’t be politicising this, it’s very straightforward and I don’t see why there’s an argument.”
Ian Murray, Labour MP for Edinburgh South, said: “Given the outstanding success of Team GB and Edinburgh’s own Chris Hoy I would hope his achievement could be recognised in his home town.”
Mark Lazarowicz, Labour MP for Edinburgh North & Leith, added: “Edinburgh is the obvious location for a major celebration.
“It’s Scotland’s capital as well as having the connection with Sir Chris Hoy and other Scottish Olympians.”
Glasgow politicians also hit out at the idea of Stirling hosting the event – and insisted it should instead go to their city.
David Meikle, Conservative councillor for Pollokshields, countered: “Glasgow would be the ideal city for the event, and personally I’d be gutted if it was overlooked.
“Glasgow is a vibrant, modern city, home to the Commonwealth Games and the Chris Hoy Velodrome.”
John McLaughlin, SNP councillor for Shettleston, added: “At the risk of offending people in Edinburgh, I don’t see Edinburgh’s claim at all. Glasgow is the natural home of sport in Scotland and I would be very disappointed if it wasn’t chosen.”
Calls for the parade to be brought to the Capital were also made by those involved in promoting sport, with tennis coach Alex Harkins saying: “It would make more sense to have it here, especially for the number of local schoolchildren who would be able to see some of their heroes in the flesh.”
Steven Mallon, president of the Heriot-Watt University Rowing club, added: “I don’t think Stirling would be the best place to hold it. Edinburgh and Glasgow have people like Sir Chris Hoy and Katherine Grainger, who have done so well at these games.
“These two cities have Olympic history in terms of the stars they produce, and so they should take precedence over Stirling.”
Scotland has provided more than its fair share of medal winners to Team GB.
Peebles-born Scott Brash brought home gold as part of the GB showjumping team. Glasgow’s Katherine Grainger added gold to the pile following the women’s double skulls final, Heather Stanning of Moray gave us another rowing gold in the women’s pairs rowing and Tim Baillie from Aberdeenshire brought home gold in the canoe slalom.
Michael Jamieson was awarded silver following in the men’s 200m breaststroke, and Dundee’s Daniel Purvis was given bronze for his performance in the artistic gymnastics men’s team final. Andy Murray became the first British gold medallist in men’s singles tennis in more than 100 years after beating Roger Federer.
Our outstanding performer, however, was Sir Chris Hoy, who took his place in the record books earlier this week as Britain’s most decorated Olympian, winning two gold medals from the London Games to taking his total Olympic haul to six.
As a result he is set to be given the Freedom of Edinburgh, while calls have also been made to name from cycle lanes across the city after him and even to erect a statue in honour of his achievement.