Edinburgh honours Commonwealth Games heroes

Glasgow 2014 athletes at the City Chambers
Glasgow 2014 athletes at the City Chambers
Have your say

COMMONWEALTH heroes brushed off the wet weather as they received the red carpet treatment at their homecoming celebration.

Heavy rain may have kept some fans away but spirits were high at the City Chambers as the Lord Provost welcomed Edinburgh’s envoys to the Glasgow Games last month after they contributed to Team Scotland’s best-ever medal haul.

Judo Gold Medalist Chris Sherrington shows his medal to 3 year old Lilly Ammah from Edinburgh. Picture: Neil Hanna

Judo Gold Medalist Chris Sherrington shows his medal to 3 year old Lilly Ammah from Edinburgh. Picture: Neil Hanna

Around 100 people turned out in the rain to watch the 30 sporting stars walk the red carpet, flanked by a guard of honour made up of high constables.

Welcomed by the peals of a lone piper, the group – who all have links with the Lothians – were introduced by comedian Alan Anderson and received honours from Lord Provost Donald Wilson.

Councillor Wilson said: “It doesn’t seem like that long ago we had the Queen’s Baton Relay in Edinburgh.

“I sent them off with good luck at the end of the relay and they kept us on the edge of our seats for the whole summer.

“I didn’t realise then how successful the team would be, bringing home 26 medals – 11 gold, seven silver and eight bronze. They’ve made us all very proud.

“This event is an opportunity for local people to show support for their local athletes, and it is a chance to say thank you for making this year’s Commonwealth Games such a success for Team Scotland.”

Thousands of people lined the streets of Glasgow waving Saltires for Team Scotland’s homecoming parade earlier this month, but scenes of such adulation were not expected in Edinburgh, with rain playing a major role in the low turnout, according to the Lord Provost.

He said: “I could not possibly compare this to Glasgow. What we are commemorating here is Edinburgh’s ­contribution.”

Gold-medal winning judoka Chris Sherrington was optimistic about the ceremony as he and other athletes posed for pictures with young fans in the City Chambers’ quadrangle.
The 30-year-old Royal Marine, who hails from Broxburn, said: “It’s been a good day. Edinburgh and the Lord Provost always put on a good show.

“The weather could have been better but it’s what we call ‘beret moulding’ weather in the Marines.

“It was nice getting introduced like that with the red carpet and getting that recognition in Edinburgh.”

Sporting success at the Games has transformed his life, as the 30-year-old said he is now often recognised in the street.

“I was in the shop the other day and a total stranger came up to me and said ‘Well done Chris’ and shook my hand.

“Everyone in the community has been supporting me.”

Sherrington plans to return to the Marines next month and hopes to continue supporting charities such as the Sick Kids Friends Foundation.

There was a moment of glory for eight-year-old Nicholas Carr, who posed for a picture with the judo hero.

Nicholas, who was there with his aunt Janet Raith, even managed to get his hands on a gold medal.

Ms Raith, 45, who lives in Willowbrae, said: “We really enjoyed the ceremony. I thought there would have been more people but I think the weather scared them away.

“The children seem to have really enjoyed it.”

Prestonpans boxer Josh Taylor was also a hit with the fans, after winning a gold medal at the Games, but said he was preparing to get back to business following the clamour in the wake of his success.

He said: “I’m back to reality now and I will be back training next week.

“I’ve not had time to go to the Fringe as I have mainly been chilling out at home, meeting up with friends and family.”

The 23-year-old fighter celebrated a different honour last week when it was revealed a local pub had decided to name an ale after him.

The Prestoungrange Gothenburg pub rebranded one of its tipples “The Prestonpans Punch” in tribute to Taylor, who first rose to prominence by scoring a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010.

Enthusiasm for the Commonwealth Games has not even started to die down, according to judo gold medallist Sarah Clark.

She said: “Everywhere I’ve been people have been talking about the Commonwealth Games.”

The 26-year-old announced her retirement from the sport following her electrifying win against Cameroonian Hélène Wezeu-Dombeu.

Clark, who has lived in Edinburgh for 18 years, said: “I think the weather put people off, but I think it’s good to be recognised and it’s good to be here at the City Chambers.

“Glasgow was huge, but to have an event in Edinburgh and recognise the Edinburgh athletes is great.

“Edinburgh is where I’ve chosen to make my home. Our training is Edinburgh-based and the national centre is out at Ratho, so that’s why I’m here.”

Other stars at the reception included Team Scotland flag-bearer Euan Burton, judo silver medallist Matthew Purssey and athletics stars Emma Nuttall and Jayne Nisbet.

There were also appearances from badminton players Jillie Cooper and Martin Campbell, cyclists Bruce Croall and Jenny Davis and table tennis players Craig Howieson and Sean Doherty.

However, there was no appearance by athletics star Lynsey Sharp, who claimed silver in Glasgow after an emotional performance in the 800m.

Fiona McInnes, 44, from Corstorphine, decided to come along to support the athletes after watching many of them compete at the Games, where she worked as a volunteer.

She said: “I watched Euan Burton doing judo, which wasn’t a sport I had really watched before but I love it now. The ceremony was good, though it’s a shame there weren’t a few more people.”

A private civic reception was then held in the City Chambers, followed by the annual Edinburgh Sports Awards, where up-and-coming grassroots athletes were honoured by the band of Commonwealth stars.

Councillor Richard Lewis, the city’s sport leader, said: “In what has been an exceptional year for sport in Edinburgh, more people and clubs have been nominated for the annual Edinburgh Sports Awards than ever before.”