Medal winners call for Capital Commonwealth parade

Lynsey Sharp shows her medal to Erskine Stewart's Melville School pupils. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Lynsey Sharp shows her medal to Erskine Stewart's Melville School pupils. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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A STRING of medal-winning sports stars has joined a growing chorus to stage a Commonwealth Games homecoming for Edinburgh’s athletes.

Golden judoka Euan Burton and track favourite Lynsey Sharp have now backed calls for a Capital parade or concert to honour the efforts of Lothian competitors.

It comes as Scotland placed fourth in the overall rankings winning 53 medals – 19 of which were gold.

An open-top bus tour, a parade along Princes Street and a stage appearance at the fireworks finale of the Festival have all been mooted to mark the occasion – but gold medallist Burton jokingly suggested a celebratory tram ride.

He said: “The most important thing is that if we’re celebrating success then we should do it with as many people taking part as possible. If that means an open-top bus or tram then bring it on.”

With Glasgow’s victory parade set for mid-August, Burton said Edinburgh should help spread the celebrations around the country. He added: “I’m sure there’s people in Edinburgh who didn’t get across to Glasgow, so as long as they get to see the medals then that’s what matters.”

Team-mate Lynsey Sharp, who overcame illness to claim a silver medal in the 800m final at Hampden, threw her weight behind a parade in her native city, saying the Glasgow Games had been an amazing 11 days that she wanted to go on as long as possible.

“We should do what happened after the London games in 2012,” she said. “Just coming down The Mound in the pouring rain was surreal.”

Politicians from all sides have now emerged to support the campaign.

Scottish Conservative Lothians MSP Gavin Brown said: “I think it’s a great idea but, more importantly, I believe the people of the Lothians will be right behind it, too, and only too keen to turn out and show their appreciation.”

Mike Crockart, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West, said Scotland had doubled their medal haul from Delhi 2010 when Edinburgh held a procession through the Capital.

“We should do no less this time so the people of Edinburgh can give our medal winners the thanks and respect they richly deserve,” he said.

But some former stars warned that whatever was planned, it should not be too formal.

Alex Arthur MBE, who won a boxing gold for Scotland in the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games, said: “I was with the athletes this weekend and after what they’ve been through, being shunted around and tied up with testing and interviews, what they deserve now is a relaxing event with music, maybe in Princes Street Gardens.

“They’ve had thousands of hours in preparation, training, dieting and all the other stuff that goes into being a top athlete. So now they need something with the ordinary people who could buy tickets and that way raise money for training camps and equipment for the next generation.”

The Team Scotland Athletes’ Parade will be held in Glasgow on August 15 as the city’s finale to the Commonwealth Games. A seven-strong fleet of vehicles will travel from Kelvingrove Art Gallery to George Square. Members of the public are being encouraged to line the route, giving the athletes an opportunity to thank them for their support.