Cheering crowds welcome London 2012 Olympic gold medal-winning heptathlete Jessica Ennis back to her home city Sheffield


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The Independent Online

Olympics golden girl Jessica Ennis has told thousands of people in her home city: "This is my home and this is the place that I love."

More than 10,000 are thought to have crammed into Sheffield city centre last night to welcome the gold medal-winning heptathlete back.

Many at the front of the barriers had waited for more than four hours for Ennis to appear on the stage outside the City Hall.

When she stepped out and waved to the crowd, she was greeted by deafening cheers and a sea of Union flags.

Ennis told the vast crowd: "Thank you so much to every single one of you here.

"If I could thank you all individually, I would. There are so many of you.

"You've been incredible - not just these past few weeks, but the past few years.

"You've always been there to support me. I can't thank you enough."

Ennis was asked to unveil a golden version of the plaque commemorating her achievements which is already outside Sheffield's Town Hall.

Council leader Julie Dore said: "You have truly helped to change this great city of ours from a city of steel to a city of gold.

"Sheffield is your home and we know you are so proud of the city - maybe as much as we are of you."

Earlier in the day 1,000 screaming fans waited out in heavy rain to greet Olympic bronze medallist Tom Daley at a book signing.

The queue of people hoping to meet the diver at The Mall, Cribbs Causeway near Bristol, had to be closed after an "unprecedented turnout".

The public had been told to start arriving from 8am but by 9am the queue had been closed by organisers.

Some of the teen heartthrob's fans had even camped out overnight following a book signing Daley held on Thursday at the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent.

The 18-year-old diver said he was overwhelmed with the amount of support he had been shown since winning the bronze medal in the men's 10m platform event last Saturday.

Speaking just before hundreds of fans filed into a small space at the back of WHSmith, he said: "It's crazy to say the least, honestly, about a thousand people are here today and they've had to shut the queue because there were too many people turning up.

"Not once did I ever think that that was going to happen, so it's crazy, it really is.

"It's amazing to think that people have actually camped out since before 11pm last night.

"It's insane really to think about it, that someone really wants to get a signed book and things like that, it's mind blowing."

The diver had dedicated his Olympic medal to his father, Rob, who died of cancer aged 40 last year.

Daley, from Plymouth, Devon, had a close relationship with his father who had taken him to training and been to every competition before he was taken ill.