Hero's welcome for Andy Murray in Dunblane

 

Olympic and US Open tennis champion Andy Murray has thanked supporters for an “unbelievable” homecoming celebration.

The 25-year-old was given a hero's welcome in a triumphant return to Dunblane, near Stirling.

Thousands of people waited hours in wet weather, chanting his name while waving Scottish flags and homemade placards.

They were rewarded for their patience, with Murray appearing to sign as many autographs as possible as he slowly walked along through the town.

He also took time to take part in a knockabout with youngsters at his old tennis club.

Murray said: "I had no idea what to expect, so to see so many people show up and show such support and hang around for so long in the rain and cold weather was unbelievable.

"The last week I haven't been thinking about tennis much - I've just been relaxing and I'll get back onto the court in the next few days. That's when I'll see how I'm feeling.

"I'd hope that from winning the US Open I've gained some confidence and I need to try to keep the momentum with me till the end of the year.

"I've got to go back to London tonight but I spent some time with my mum last night, I had a nice lunch with my dad and I saw my grandparents before this. It's been great to see them."

Murray is celebrating a golden summer of success with locals just days after returning to the UK after beating Novak Djokovic to win the US Open.

That victory came weeks after he beat Roger Federer to take the Olympic men's title at the London 2012 Games.

Cameron Reid-Thomas, 11, from Dunblane, was among those who waited to welcome the champion.

He said: "We're Andy's biggest fans, we all came here to see him and say well done.

"It's huge for all his fans to see him back here. He doesn't get back often because he's always training and playing tournaments."

Johnathan Beher, aged seven, from Dunblane, said: "Andy's my hero, I want to be just like him."

Neil Yarwood, 41, travelled from Perth with his wife Rhona and daughters Robyn, seven, and Iona, nine.

He said: "I've never seen Dunblane High Street like it. The atmosphere is fantastic.

"We're here to see Andy and give him the respect he deserves. He's had a great year and we're so proud of him."

The crowd's excitement peaked as Murray posed next to the High Street postbox painted gold in honour of his Olympic victories.

The tennis ace grinned and held aloft his medals before handing them to waiting schoolchildren who gasped before trying on the silver and gold themselves.

Murray admired the posters they had created to welcome the star home before continuing his tour of the town towards the tennis club where his dream began.

Fans in Dunblane have continually backed Murray in his search for a grand slam title and regularly gather in pubs and clubs in the town to watch important matches.

Murray did not attend Friday's official victory parade for Scotland's Olympians and Paralympians in Glasgow, having been advised to take a couple of days of complete rest at home after playing continuously for four months.

Local MSP Keith Brown, who called for the tennis player to be given the Freedom of Dunblane and Freedom of Stirling, said: "The feel-good factor in Dunblane was tremendous. It was clear Andy was enjoying the three hours signing autographs and getting his photo taken with people.

"He was smiling non stop he got off the bus at the start and walked for over three hours meeting the crowds.

"Andy has had a superb year and it was a privilege to be part of the hundreds of local people turning out to welcome him back to Dunblane.

"Everybody was very excited to see him and give him the welcoming home he deserved."

PA

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