Team GB's sailors welcomed home as thousands line streets of Weymouth and Portland for parade (From Thisisdorset)
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Team GB's sailors welcomed home as thousands line streets of Weymouth and Portland for parade
TEAM GB's sailors were given a thunderous welcome as thousands of people lined the streets of Weymouth and Portland for an open-top bus parade.
A total of 15 Olympians, including the record-breaking Ben Ainslie , saluted the crowds as a convoy of police vehicles led the victory bus through the winding streets of the borough.
Ainslie, whose hard-fought fourth gold at the home Games made him the most decorated Olympic sailor of all time, said: “We’ve been based here for the last three or four years and the support we’ve had from the local community and through the Games themselves, it’s great for us to be able to give something back and say thanks.”
He paid tribute to the crowds who had supported him, not only on the water, but also during his stint as the first torch bearer at Land’s End in Cornwall and added: “It was a real eye opener to see what it meant to everyone around the country.
“And to see the turnout today – It really is the people's games.”
Portland’s Luke Patience , who won silver with Stuart Bithell in the 470 at their first Olympic Games, said: ''The warmth we felt from having a home Games was the most amazing experience. It’s surreal, just madness to see so many people come out watching us, it’s pretty cool, nothing we’ve experienced before.
“I hope that we, the athletes, can inspire a generation to try these sports.”
His mum Judith Patience, was among the crowd on Portland. She said: “We are immensely proud. They did a great job, they worked hard and they deserve it.”
Weymouth’s Olympic silver and bronze medallist windsurfer Nick Dempsey said yesterday’s celebration topped the homecoming from the Beijing 2008 Games.
He said: “It’s pretty special, last time it was special but this time the town really, really got involved.
“It’s been more than just about our achievement as sailors, it’s really been about the town’s achievement, the Olympics has shown the town at its best.
“People will come back here not just because it’s a nice place but because it’s a friendly environment.”
Bithell toasted the crowd on Weymouth seafront with champagne and Sherborne’s Star silver medallist Andrew Simpson proudly held his young son Freddie aloft when he joined him on the bus.
Poole’s Match Race Girls skipper Lucy Macgregor, who competed with her sister Kate and crew Annie Lush, said: “The Olympics had an amazing atmosphere and to see it follow through into this week has been brilliant.
“We’ve seen some amazing sights, our favourite was a lady who kept running with the bus for quite a while.
“The Olympic spirit is pretty infectious, I hope we can maintain it for the next few years.”