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Daley stars in Olympics parade

September 19, 2012 18:56 pm

Hordes of homemade banners, joyous crowds and lashings of Olympic and Paralympic spirit greeted athletes as Tom Daley and his colleagues lapped up the euphoria surrounding the London 2012 Games as Plymouth paid tribute to its young sporting stars on Wednesday.

The teenage diving sensation was among those joining in the open-top bus parade through the Devon city, as thousands of well-wishers packed the streets to pay tribute to the 18-year-old bronze medallist.

The 15-year-old swimmer Ruta Meilutyte, who won gold in the 100m women's breaststroke for her home country of Lithuania, was also among the athletes taking part in the event.

The pair waved from the balcony of Plymouth College, where Daley and Meilutyte are studying for their A-Levels and GCSEs respectively, before boarding the bus as it made its hour-long route through the city streets.

Others in the parade included divers Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow, swimmers Antony James, Jamila Lunkuse and Jade Howard, fencer Corinna Lawrence, wheelchair basketball player Judith Hamer and Paralympic table tennis player David Wetherill.

Daley's diving coach Andy Banks and Meilutyte's swimming coach Jon Rudd also took part in the celebration, which included a stop at the new multimillion-pound Plymouth Life Centre, where many of the city's athletes train.

Each athlete was given a rousing reception as they were presented to the crowd which had gathered near the city plaza to welcome them off the bus. But the biggest cheer was reserved for Daley, wearing his TeamGB tracksuit and bronze medal.

Addressing the crowd - several members of which tried to catch his attention with shouts of "I love you, Tom" - the diver said: "Today has been crazy. The number of people who have lined the streets and the foot bridges - thank you for coming.

"It has been pretty crazy since the Olympic Games. Going through town or going out it is literally mental all the time. But it is back to school now, back to reality."

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