Thousands expected for Olympic victory parade

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The Independent Online

Thousands of people are expected to cheer Britain's Olympic heroes during tomorrow's victory parade in London.

For the first time Olympic and Paralympic athletes will take part together, marking their impressive performances in Beijing this summer.

It means that up to 500 sport stars, including Olympic gold medallists including sprinter Christine Ohuruogu, cyclist Rebecca Romero and 13-year-old double Paralympic champion swimmer Eleanor Simmonds, may take part.

Chris Hoy, triple Olympic cycling champ from Beijing, said: "The parade is the big one. We are all looking forward to it. Hopefully the weather will hold."

Despite today's damp scenes, forecasters do not believe that it will rain on tomorrow's parade.

A spokesman for MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "I think it should cheer up by tomorrow with just the chance of a shower. Breezy but quite a bit of sunshine and about 14C to 15C which is not bad for an October day in London."

Thousands of sports fans and well-wishers are expected to flock to the city, where the parade will begin in front of Mansion House at 11am.

The athletes, who will be packed on to 12 floats, will pass several landmarks during the parade. They will travel down Queen Victoria Street and past St Paul's Cathedral, then heading down Fleet Street, past the Royal Courts of Justice and down the Strand.

The first float, which will contain members of Britain's dominant cycling team, is due to arrive in Trafalgar Square at about 12.30pm.

Team GB won 19 golds at the Beijing Olympics to finish fourth in the medal table with a haul of 47 medals - their best performance since the London Games of 1908.

Britain also boasts its most successful Paralympics team in two decades.

ParalympicsGB won 102 medals, including 42 golds, to finish second in the medals table behind their Chinese hosts.

The athletes are due to assemble on the north terrace overlooking the square at approximately 1.15pm.

British Olympic Association chairman Lord Moynihan said: "It is great that the Olympians and Paralympians can celebrate their greatest results in modern Olympic history."

Phil Lane, chief executive of ParalympicsGB, said: "The ParalympicsGB team had some fantastic performances across the sports at the Beijing Games so it's a fitting tribute that their achievements will be celebrated, alongside those of Britain's Olympians, in this parade."

Team GB's and Paralympics GB's all-conquering cyclists will be leading the parade.

Hoy will be joined by fellow Olympic champions Nicole Cooke, Victoria Pendleton and Rebecca Romero - alongside Paralympic champions Sarah and Barney Storey, Rachel Morris and Simon Richardson, among others, on the first float.

Rowers, who between them can boast 22 Olympic medals, are on the next float.

They will be joined by Tom Aggar and Helene Raynsford, who became the first athletes to win Paralympic rowing golds, when the sport made its debut at the Games this summer.

London's own Olympic 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu and two-time Paralympic gold medallist David Weir will be among the track and field stars on the next three floats.

Wheelchair tennis medallists Peter Norfolk and Jamie Burdekin will also be aboard this float.

Team GB's first taekwondo medallist Sarah Stevenson and modern pentathlon silver medallist Heather Fell will follow, along with the Olympic and Paralympic equestrian teams - including Beijing triple gold medallist Lee Pearson.

Britain's successful sailors, including triple Olympic champion Ben Ainslie, will be joining the party atmosphere on the seventh float. They will be accompanied by gymnasts and wheelchair rugby players.

Boxing gold medallist James Degale will follow, along with the archery and badminton players.

Another powerhouse performer, canoeing gold and bronze medallist Tim Brabants, will appear on the 10th float. He will be joined by Britain's two Paralympic football teams.

Tom Daley, the 14-year-old diving sensation, will be joined on float 11 by 11-time Paralympic gold medallist Dave Roberts.

Britain's pair of double gold medallist swimmers - Rebecca Adlington and Eleanor Simmonds - will bring up the rear on the final float.