Parade of Heroes sets the pace for London 2012 bid

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The Independent Online

Many of Britain's Olympic medal winners had already done a lap of honour in Athens, the civic reception and some even appeared on A Question of Sport.

Many of Britain's Olympic medal winners had already done a lap of honour in Athens, the civic reception and some even appeared on A Question of Sport.

But yesterday, six weeks after the Games ended, marked the Great Britain team's best Olympics medal haul in 20 years, with a crowd of more than 200,000 people cheering as they lined the streets of London.

The Parade of Heroes - 47 medal winners and 90 paralympians - rolled slowly down Piccadilly on a 1.5mile route to Trafalgar Square to the applause of workers, fans and tourists.

"This is going to be another of those days that I remember for a very long time,'' said Kelly Holmes, who had been travelling on the track and field lorry. "I'm more worried about going to see the Queen than I am about standing in front of thousands of people,'' said the 800m and 1500m gold medallist, who had been practising her curtsey for last night's reception at Buckingham Palace.

An audience with the Royals was a particularly special occasion for Leslie Law, the three-day eventer who was promoted from silver to gold after he returned from the Games. He was handed his medal last night from Princess Anne, a member of the International Olympic Committee. "I've counted off the days and now I'm counting off the hours,'' he said, choked, as the National Anthem played for him in the Square.

Matthew Pinsent, who claimed his fourth gold in the coxless fours, sidestepped the question of a fifth medal bid with a quip at the expense of the Canadians, whom his crew narrowly beat in Athens.

"All I'm saying is that it's good to be standing here overshadowed by Canada House,'' he said gesturing to his right. He defended the timing of yesterday's parade with his usual eloquence: "This was always going to be a more compact event than the [World Cup] rugby parade.''

Yesterday's added impetus stemmed from the fact that London's bid to stage the Olympic Games in 2012 is entering a crucial stage. A detailed proposal will be submitted to the IOC next month. Bid-branded taxis took to the roads yesterday to add to the spectacle. But Graham Taylor from Luton in Bedfordshire, couldn't help but note: "The one person missing is Paula Radcliffe."

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