Plans unveiled for Olympic party in Edinburgh

SCOTLAND'S Rio Olympians and Paralympians are to receive a heroes' welcome in the Capital, the Evening News can reveal.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 19th August 2016, 8:53 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 4:07 pm
Sir Chris Hoy takes the acclaim of the crowds on the open-top bus parade following the 2012 Olympics. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Sir Chris Hoy takes the acclaim of the crowds on the open-top bus parade following the 2012 Olympics. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Plans for a celebration which will give fans the chance to pay tribute to competitors in this year’s Games are at an advanced stage.

Preparations come as Scotland celebrates its best ever medal haul at an overseas Olympics, with the tally of medal winners standing at 15 last night. Hopes are high that a large number of medallists will attend the jamboree.

Scottish victors in Rio include city cyclist Callum Skinner, 23, who took gold and silver in the team and individual sprint events, and Warrender Baths Club member Dan Wallace, also 23, who won silver in the 200m freestyle relay.

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An open top bus is planned for the athletes.

It is also possible that double Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, who successfully defended his Olympic title in Rio, will be among those heading to the Capital.

The event will echo an open-top bus parade held in Edinburgh to celebrate the Olympic success of cyclist Sir Chris Hoy and other Scottish athletes at the London 2012 Games.

Officials at Sportscotland said details of the event were still being finalised.

A spokesman for the agency said: “Plans for a homecoming event in the Edinburgh area are at an advanced stage of preparation.

An open top bus is planned for the athletes.

“This will be a fitting celebration for Scotland’s Olympians and Paralympians.”

There are 50 Scots representing Team GB in Rio – the largest ever contingent in a British squad for an overseas Olympics and surpassing the previous record of 31 in the 2008 Beijing Games.

Scottish athletes are also competing in 15 of the 42 sports in Brazil.

Sports leaders in the Capital said they were delighted to hear about plans for a homecoming celebration and predicted it would mean the world to residents and young athletes.

Laurel Bailey, head coach at Warrender Baths Club, said the success of Dan Wallace and the other Scottish competitors had sparked huge excitement among her swimmers.

She said: “Team GB has had the most successful away Olympics ever and, on the back of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and London in 2012, everyone is really interested. Everyone seems to be following the success quite closely. I think it will be great for the competitors and the public to have the chance to celebrate that when they get back from Rio.

“I don’t know what Dan’s movements will be when he returns but he has family in Edinburgh and North Berwick, so I think he will definitely spend some time here.”

City bosses have welcomed plans for a heroes’ welcome.

Councillor Richard Lewis, culture and sport leader, said: “The combined achievements of this year’s Team GB athletes has been astounding.

“There is no question that each and every one of them deserves a warm welcome home.

“The more Scotland can celebrate their successes, the more likely it is a new generation of sporting stars will follow in their footsteps.

“While we remain in conversations with Sportscotland on any national plans, the council will certainly be inviting Edinburgh athletes to attend the city’s local sports awards which are held every year to celebrate promising new talent.”

Lord Provost Donald Wilson also backed the event, saying: “I will be raising a motion to the next full council meeting calling for the city to congratulate all athletes involved. Any moves to provide Team GB with a fitting homecoming would be welcome.

“So many Team GB athletes have a special connection to this city and the people of Edinburgh have so much pride for all they have achieved.”