Updated: Monday, 20th November 2017 @ 11:35am

Manchester sports fans turn out in thousands to say thank you to Olympians and Paralympians

Manchester sports fans turn out in thousands to say thank you to Olympians and Paralympians

By Phil Jones & Pippa Field

Team Manchester celebrated a homecoming evening in Albert Square as the public said thank you to their Olympic and Paralympic heroes.

A packed-out crowd was full of cheers for Manchester’s Olympians, Paralympians, as well as the Gamesmakers and torch-bearers who helped make a memorable summer.

Thousands braved the cold to cheer Manchester’s array of medallists including Sir Chris Hoy, Sarah Storey, Laura Trott and Jade Jones.

Sir Chris was stunned by the number of people who came out to pay tribute to the Olympians and admitted Manchester was a huge help for them.

He said: “We have a lot to thank Manchester for, there’s no doubt we wouldn’t be winning the medals we are now without the facilities here.

“We really appreciate the support, it has meant so much to us all.

“I’m amazed to see so many people out tonight, thanks for coming.”

Lord Mayor of Manchester, Cllr Elaine Boyes, said her own thank you to Manchester’s heroes.

She said: “They have once again put Manchester on the world map as the medal factory.

“I also want to thank the ambassadors, Games Makers and torch bearers for securing a fantastic legacy for Manchester.”

DELIGHTED: Sir Chris Hoy at Manchester homecoming parade for Olympians

 

London 2012 was a fantastic summer for women’s sport and Britain’s most successful women were on show, with Laura Trott and Sarah Storey addressing the crowd.

“It’s amazing to see so many people out here. Life has been really fun and enjoyable since the games,” said double gold medallist Trott.

“I’ve been in the paper for good reasons and bad reasons but it’s been great.”

Storey – the most successful British Paralympian of all time with 22 medals – celebrated her 35th birthday with a rendition of happy birthday from the assembled masses, and insisted she is not finished.

She said: “There’s plenty more to do in road cycling, I’m looking forward to 2013 and beyond to try and win some more medals.”

Great Britain men’s and women’s water polo, Paralympic swimming and taekwondo were all on show.

And taekwondo bronze medallist Lutalo Muhammad took the time to speak to MM before going onstage.

He said: “It’s wonderful to have memories of the Olympics, it’s especially good to be here in Manchester as we train here and my Mum was born here.

“It’s very special and a place that is very close to my heart so it means something to be here and be appreciated by the people of Manchester.”

MEDALLIST: Lutalo Muhammad talks to a Games Maker in Manchester

The crowd had enjoyed the summer of sport just as much as the athletes and wanted to show their appreciation.

Pam Keithley, from Bolton, was there to celebrate as her husband was applauded for his Games Maker role in the Paralympics.

She said: “The whole thing was fabulous, he loved it, we were both Games Makers for the Commonwealth’s in 2002 and that was absolutely terrific also.”

Kerry Finley, 33, from Sale, wanted to see all the athletes and picked out her favourite moment.

“I've come to see them all, my moment was Mo Farah doing the Mobot after his 5000m victory,” she said.

Liz Howe, Sale, 33 said: “I really enjoyed seeing Lizzie Armitstead winning our first medal of the games, I was jumping up and down screaming at the TV.”

James Howe, 34, said: “I was so pleased we did the opening ceremony well. I'm not usually a sports fan but I was converted for those few weeks - super Saturday was my highlight.”

Not all the crowd were happy with the evening’s events though, with some complaining of a small crowd and not enough publicity for the celebration.

Cheryl Lodge, from Saddleworth, was a Games Maker during the Olympics and Paralympics and was expected more.

She said: “I would’ve expected to see more people, I don’t know whether everyone knew about it, we only heard about it at the last minute.

And Sue Taylor, from Denton, also a Games Maker, was left disappointed.

“It would’ve been nice to see more people from Manchester out to say thank you.”

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