Mon August 20, 2012 10:45pm
LED along George Street by ''the Queen'', two corgis, two red telephone boxes, five beefeaters, the top half of Big Ben and a London bus, Australia's 2012 Olympians celebrated an heroic homecoming yesterday.
LED along George Street by ''the Queen'', two corgis, two red telephone boxes, five beefeaters, the top half of Big Ben and a London bus, Australia's 2012 Olympians celebrated an heroic homecoming in Sydney yesterday.
The medal haul of seven gold, 16 silver and 12 bronze - represented by child-size discs - may not have been the heaviest, but tens of thousands turned up to cheer the athletes in the most spectacular parade ever.
There were a few notable absentees, including two gold medallists, hurdler Sally Pearson and sailor Tom Slingsby, and Prince Philip. ''Poor old thing, he's still having trouble with his bladder,'' her majesty explained.
Almost every other medal winner was among the 90 or so athletes, out of a team of 410, to walk from Circular Quay to Town Hall - dancing, skipping, stopping for photos. They were given a rousing send off by the Governor, Marie Bashir, who spoke of the nation's ''overwhelming sense of pride'' in its Olympians. ''You epitomise that one line in our national anthem that 'we are young and free'. And you always will be.''
Heroes such as silver-medallist swim-sprinter James Magnussen, whose image fills a complete office frontage on George Street, were greeted like rock stars.
Magnussen waded cheerfully through the adoration. He dismissed media suggestions he might be disappointed at missing out on a gold medal by one-hundredth of a second.
''At the end of the day it doesn't matter what the media says. If I can put some smiles on faces, that will make my day as well,'' he said.
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