Team GB Victory Parade: Thousands Turn Out as Olympians Meet HM the Queen
LONDON today set the scene for Olympics 2012 as "Team GB" home-coming sportsmen and women - all 599 of them - paraded through central London to a rally at Trafalagar Square and greeted by London's Mayor, Boris Johnson, red-faced, after arriving late by push-bike.
The reception at nearby Buckingham Palace with HM the Queen sealed off the pomp and circumstance of the day. Earlier HM Queen's Royal Household Cavalry marched in full bearskin regalia down horseguards parade.
Britain's Olympic heroes were treated to a royal reception to mark the end of a day of celebrations.
At Buckingham Palace, the Queen was introduced to an array of gold medallists who, despite their sporting success, still displayed a touch of the jitters at meeting the monarch.
Rebecca Adlington, double Olympic swimming champion, said she was "too nervous to speak", while 400m runner Christine Ohuruogu said her heart was beating fast because she was so excited.
In all, some 69 medallists numbered among the 550 guests at the celebratory reception. They were greeted by the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the Princess Royal, who is President of the British Olympic Association.
The Duchess of Cornwall, patron of the British Equestrian Federation, was also in attendance, along with the Duke of Kent and Princess Alexandra.
They met members of Team GB, British Olympic Association staff and Lord Coe, chairman of the London 2012 Olympic organising committee.
London Mayor Boris Johnson also attended but was left red-faced after arriving late on his pushbike. "My bicycle is being looked after in fine style somewhere in the grand entrance," he said on arrival.
Sky News Online's Hazel Tyldesley is at the parade and said: "The square mile was bathed in sun and office workers piled onto balconies to cheer the floats past.
"There was an air of celebration not seen in the City for weeks - with loud clapping and waving of foam hands."
Five-time gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave told Sky News: "The pleasing thing about Beijing was that it was across the board, every sport was having a say in the medals."
He added: "I think that we will win more in four years time at the 2012 Olympics."
After the end of the procession, Olympic medallists will be given a Royal welcome by the Queen.
There will be 69 medal winners among the 550 guests at the Buckingham Palace reception.
Thousands have lined the route from Mansion House to Trafalgar Square to enjoy the Team GB Victory Parade, which has culminated in a reception with HM the Queen.
Team GB - Britain's successful Olympic team prepares for the victory parade today where they will be presented to HM The Queen. The Paralympic team will join them, as thousands are expected to turn up along the route, starting at Mansion House at 11:00 am.
The cyclists are expected to lead the way, followed by over 500 star sportsmen and women.
Thousands of people are expected to cheer Britain's Olympic heroes during tomorrow's victory parade in London.
For the first time Olympic and Paralympic athletes will take part together, marking their impressive performances in Beijing this summer.
It means that up to 500 sport stars, including Olympic gold medallists including sprinter Christine Ohuruogu, cyclist Rebecca Romero and 13-year-old double Paralympic champion swimmer Eleanor Simmonds, may take part.
Chris Hoy, triple Olympic cycling champ from Beijing, said: "The parade is the big one. We are all looking forward to it. Hopefully the weather will hold."
Despite today's damp scenes, forecasters do not believe that it will rain on tomorrow's parade.
A spokesman for MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "I think it should cheer up by tomorrow with just the chance of a shower. Breezy but quite a bit of sunshine and about 14C to 15C which is not bad for an October day in London."
Thousands of sports fans and well-wishers are expected to flock to the city, where the parade will begin in front of Mansion House at 11am.
The athletes, who will be packed on to 12 floats, will pass several landmarks during the parade. They will travel down Queen Victoria Street and past St Paul's Cathedral, then heading down Fleet Street, past the Royal Courts of Justice and down the Strand.
The first float, which will contain members of Britain's dominant cycling team, is due to arrive in Trafalgar Square at about 12.30pm.
Team GB won 19 golds at the Beijing Olympics to finish fourth in the medal table with a haul of 47 medals - their best performance since the London Games of 1908.
Britain also boasts its most successful Paralympics team in two decades.
ParalympicsGB won 102 medals, including 42 golds, to finish second in the medals table behind their Chinese hosts.
The athletes are due to assemble on the north terrace overlooking the square at approximately 1.15pm.
British Olympic Association chairman Lord Moynihan said: "It is great that the Olympians and Paralympians can celebrate their greatest results in modern Olympic history."
Phil Lane, chief executive of ParalympicsGB, said: "The ParalympicsGB team had some fantastic performances across the sports at the Beijing Games so it's a fitting tribute that their achievements will be celebrated, alongside those of Britain's Olympians, in this parade."
Team GB's and Paralympics GB's all-conquering cyclists will be leading the parade.
Hoy will be joined by fellow Olympic champions Nicole Cooke, Victoria Pendleton and Rebecca Romero - alongside Paralympic champions Sarah and Barney Storey, Rachel Morris and Simon Richardson, among others, on the first float.
Rowers, who between them can boast 22 Olympic medals, are on the next float.
"Team GB" as the successful British Olympics team have been dubbed will have a special commemorative parade through London and are set to meet Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace. The date has been set for 16th October.
At the post-handover closing ceremony in Beijing, various members of the Royal Family could be seen watching the concert in the Mall from the roof of of Buckingham Palace, one of whom is believed to have been Prince Harry.
A special RAF Red Arrow display flew overhead with a fuselage of red, blue and white streaming behind them.
Team GB landed at Heathrow today to a rapturous welcome from the assembled media and a special reception committee made up of close friends and relatives of the sportsmen and women.
The disembarkment was choreographed so that sporting heroes descended group by group - all dressed in standard official Great Britain white and blue track suits with red piping, which set off well the huge gleaming medals hanging around their necks on thick red ribbons. Team GB won nineteen Gold medals, thirteen Silver and fifteen Bronze to make a record haul of 47 in total.
They were met off the plane by Prime Minister Gordon Brown who shook hands with each of them, beaming broadly, Olympics minister, Tessa Jowell and Simon Clegg, head of the Olympics Association. Lord Coe, chairman of the organising committee for London 2012 said, "Team GB have just provided us with the most extraordinary platform. Those guys performed way beyond what I think any of us were expecting."
Double Gold-medallist, swimmer Rebecca Adlington and record breaker said she was delighted to hear that a pub had been named after her by an admirer.
"After a week of chilling out, I expect to be back at the pool every day at 5:00am," said plucky Rebecca.
Grand finale was a photo shoot, first of the Gold medallists, and then the Silver and Bronze. The party were bussed by luxury coach to the Runnymede Hotel nearby in Surrey, where a press conference took place. A special victory parade is to be held on 16th October, together with a presentation to the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
Having touched down shortly after 3pm at Heathrow Airport, the team were greeted by Prime Minister Gordon Brown as they departed the plane.
As well as the gold nose cone, the aircraft - renamed Pride after the British lion mascot - had the message "Proud to bring our British heroes home" emblazoned on the fuselage.
With a victory parade for the athletes planned for October, fans had been urged to stay away from the airport on Monday.
However, Team GB were still afforded a rapturous reception from staff at the airport with gold medallist rower Steve Williams commenting: "We were looking out of the windows and everyone at Heathrow was waving flags."
As the Closing Ceremony comes to an end, British Athletes are due to arrive in London (GMT 14:00 BST 1500 ) in a special gold-nosed plane and a full media welcoming committee as the celebrations continue in London, together with the annual Notting Hill Carnival organised by the capital's West Indian community. The British team's welcome home reception is due to be televised live. Large screens have been set up in key places as the UK enjoys August Bank Holiday Monday
London Mayor Boris Johnson told reporters in Beijing, "The Ping Pong is coming home"
Olympics: Nostalgic farewell from Beijing
The Olympic Games have drawn to a close at a glittering closing ceremony inside Beijing's Bird's Nest Stadium yesterday.
Spectacular fireworks kicked off the proceedings, while a beautifully choreographed drumming and dancing display recalled the opening ceremony.
It was a more celebratory affair, as exuberant athletes, dancers and musicians got into the party spirit.
The Olympic flag was handed to London mayor Boris Johnson, with organisers briefly showcasing the 2012 Games.
The countdown to 2012 has started, and organisers will know they have a great deal to live up to with China staging one of the best organised Games in history and staging some of the most memorable opening and closing ceremonies ever seen.
Beijing's dramatic farewell to the 29th Games of the modern Olympiad got under way with a magnificent firework display, which quickly segued into an amazing display of dancing and drumming.
Scottish cyclist Chris Hoy, who claimed three gold medals in Beijing, carried the flag for Team GB as the 204 flag bearers led the way for the thousands of athletes.
After speeches from Liu Qi, president of the Beijing Organising Committee, and International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge, the Beijing Games were officially declared over.
China staged the Olympics against a background dominated by fears of pollution, worries over security and protests about its human rights record.
But the sporting action was enthralling, with highlights including Michael Phelps swimming to a record eight gold medals and Jamaica's Usain Bolt breaking three world records on his way to three golds.
"We have come to the end of 16 days which we will cherish forever," said Rogge.
"New stars were born and stars from previous Games continued to amaze us.
"We shared their joys and their tears and marvelled at their abilities, and will long remember their achievements here.
"These were a truly exceptional Games."
The British flag was raised and "God Save the Queen" sung by the choir, before Johnson was handed the Olympic flag from Giu Jinlong, the major of Beijing, and Rogge.
It heralded the start of an eight-minute segment for London organisers to offer a flavour of the 2012 Games, as a red London bus arrived into the stadium.
Hoy, dressed up as a city gent, and fellow British cyclists Victoria Pendleton and Jamie Staff accompanied the bus on bicycles alongside a troupe of dancers holding umbrellas.
Singer Leona Lewis and former Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page emerged as the bus transformed into a grass-covered carnival float, and the pair combined for a rendition of "Whole Lotta Love".
And the biggest star turn came when former Manchester United star and England captain David Beckham arrived to kick a football into the crowd of athletes.
The Olympic flame was then extinguished, before the attention shifted to a "memory tower" in the centre of the stadium.
Legendary Spanish tenor Placido Domingo and Chinese soprano Song Zuying joined forces to sing, while Hollywood actor Jackie Chan later joined a throng of dancers and singers for a closing number.
Jimmy Page and Leona Lewis have today stunned the world at the Beijing Games closing ceremony, with a super heavy rock classic, "WHAT A WHOLE LOTTA LOVE!!!!"
Let the party begin!
Special celebrations are to take place at set points in London tomorrow to commemorate the closing of the Beijing Games and the hand over to London for 2012. England footballer David Beckham will kick a handover ball at the closing ceremony to London, it has been revealed at a press conference.
The British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is especially pleased with the British athletes' performance at the Beijing Games with a record haul of medals and has expressed a desire to award the medal winners new year's honours at the end of the year.
Large screens are already in place and the one at Trafalgar Square will play all-day great Beijing 2008 Olympic moments. A large screen was up today with German performers (see my photo, featured)
Musicians Jimmy Page and Leona Lewis will also perform during the London's part. According to Beijing Morning Post, US R&B singer Beyonce Knowles will also be on stage for London.
Among the performers are also three dance groups - the Royal Opera House, street dance theatre group ZooNation and CandoCo, a contemporary dance company of disabled and non-disabled dancers.
London's set will start with a symbolic red London double-decker bus driving around the Bird's Nest chased by Hoy, Pendleton and Reade on their bikes.
When it slows down at a bus stop, the three groups of dancers will surround the double-decker.
Afterwards the bus will transform itself, with the top half folding down in segments to show a hedge cut into shapes of the London skyline such as Tower Bridge, Battersea Power Station, the Houses of Parliament, and a phalanx of black umbrellas beside will be unfurled, BBC reported.
English pop singer Leona Lewis will emerge from the roof to sing a song and then guitarist Page appears to perform with Lewis a new version of Led Zeppelin's 'Whole Lotta Love.'
As the song nears its end, the former England captain Beckham will stand on another lift with a London girl and kick a football into the crowd of spectators in the stadium, switching everyone's attention to the handover party outside Buckingham Palace.