SIR Chris Hoy has spoken of his joy about being awarded the freedom of Edinburgh as a decision was finally made to hold an open-top bus parade to honour the city’s Olympic heroes
It was agreed unanimously to give Sir Chris Hoy – who became Britain’s greatest Olympian after winning two more gold medals at the London Games – the freedom of the city.
Sir Chris said: “To be awarded the Freedom of Edinburgh is an incredible privilege. I am absolutely delighted and deeply honoured to be recognised in this way by my home city. I was born and brought up in Edinburgh and I’ve received so much support from the city in all areas of my life, from school to University and throughout my cycling career.
“I’m very proud to be from Edinburgh and the huge support I’ve received is an integral part of my success. In particular I want to mention The City of Edinburgh Racing Club, which was the best amateur track cycling club in the UK when I joined in 1994, and was the first step towards where I am today.
“I’m really looking forward to coming home along with my Scottish teammates, so we can say a huge thank you to the public for their continued support, and enjoy the celebrations with friends and family.”
Meanwhile, councillors finally agreed yesterday to hold the parade, although no date has been set and privately it was admitted that the celebrations are now only likely to come after the official Scottish Government-organised parade in Glasgow on September 14.
Six-times gold medallist Sir Chris will be joined by the Capital’s other Olympians and Paralympians for a parade through the city later this year. But no date has yet been fixed for either occasion, despite calls for it to be held as soon as possible. And while it will be held after the end of the Paralympic Games on September 9, it is not expected to take place before the Glasgow event on September 14.
The council has already faced criticism over delays to organising the parade, with cities such as Sheffield, Leeds and Belfast having already held celebrations.
Liberal Democrat group leader Paul Edie said he hoped the parade could be organised sooner rather than later.
“I know they will all have all sort of other commitments, but I would love to see it happen on a weekend when the population of the city can turn out. We need to tap into this feelgood factor which is there.”
Council leader Andrew Burns said organising the civic reception involved finding a suitable date in the diary. He said: “We would like Sir Chris Hoy to be here for that, but we need to get all the other Olympians and Paralympians and we want to broaden it out to coaches, volunteers, officials, families, friends who helped them achieve what they did.”
He added that officials were also trying to organise a date to present Sir Chris with the Freedom of Edinburgh, which is the greatest honour Edinburgh can award.
Cllr Burns said preliminary discussions had already taken place with Sir Chris’s office to find a date when he could accept the honour, but the Olympic cycling champion was “hugely busy”.
Cllr Burns said: As soon as we have got a date we will come forward with the details.
“It is important we make sure it’s a significant and proper event for the occasion.”