Post-Olympic and Paralympic fever swept across Manchester on Monday (17 October), with the city hosting Team GBs record-breaking athletes, including retiring heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill, in a homecoming parade that paid tribute to the citys significant contribution to a massively successful summer of sporting triumph.
A quintessentially British torrential downpour did little to dampen the mood as more than 150,000 fans turned out to salute the Rio 2016 heroes. The procession began at the Museum of Science and Industry and weaved through the streets before culminating in a final event at Albert Square, where former X Factor star Rebecca Ferguson and indie rockers Kaiser Chiefs – drafted in as a late replacement for Olly Murs – entertained the crowds.
It was certainly a memorable summer for Great Britain, who finished second – ahead of China in the Olympic medal table – to complete their best ever performance on foreign soil and become the first host nation in history to improve upon their home tally in the next Games.
Set an initial medal target of 48 by UK Sport – one more than they managed at their previous best away outing in Beijing – GB made a mockery of such modest expectations by taking home 67 including 27 golds from 15 different sports.
That success was carried over to the Paralympics, where the British team also claimed second spot with their biggest haul of golds – 64 – in 28 years. They claimed 146 medals in total.
The parade has been incredible, Ennis-Hill told BBC Sport. We cant thank you enough for the support, thank you. Rio was brilliant. It was one of those occasions when everyone comes together.
The parade moves south to London tomorrow, where athletes will no doubt be treated to a similarly rousing reception at Trafalgar Square.