Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Homecoming celebration for Scots Olympians and Paralympians

Olympians
Image caption Scottish Olympians arrive at a homecoming ceremony in the new national performance centre, Oriam, at Heriot Watt University

The success of Scotland's Olympic and Paralympic stars in Rio has been celebrated in Edinburgh.

Athletes were cheered by children and mobbed for selfies as they arrived at Oriam, the new sports performance centre at Heriot-Watt University.

The homecoming event included a Q&A and an opportunity for young people to try Olympic sports such as rowing, judo and tennis, with tips from the athletes.

It was followed by a public celebration in Edinburgh's Festival Square.

Later the athletes attended the Team Scotland Scottish Sports Awards at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.

About 50 Scottish Olympic and Paralympic athletes took part in the celebration.

Image caption Selfies with Scottish track and field athlete, Eilidh Doyle who won an Olympic bronze medal in the 4 x 400 metres relay at the 2016 Games in Rio

Sportscotland said 18 medallists were at the events which the organisation said demonstrated "Scotland's pride" in what the athletes have achieved.

Double silver medal winning swimmer Duncan Scott said he hoped to encourage athletes of the future.

He said: "The biggest advice I could give is work on the little things.

"I think the whole point of being an athlete is trying to inspire the next generation no matter what level you are at.

"It's so important to carry that and keep it going."

Rio 2016 was Scotland's most successful overseas Olympics, with Scottish competitors securing 13 medals - four gold, seven silver and two bronze.

Cyclists Callum Skinner and Katie Archibald won gold along with rower Heather Stanning and tennis star Andy Murray.

Rower Katherine Grainger's silver medal made her Britain's most decorated female Olympian.

Image caption Swimmer Andrew Mullen shows off his medals

Callum Skinner, who won the silver medal in the individual cycling track sprints and was a member of the British team that won gold in the team sprint in Rio, said he was pleased to see so many young people at the event.

He said: "I was inspired by watching Chris Hoy as a kid and sport should be something for everyone.

"It's a great thing to get involved in so the more kids that get inspired the better.

"My medals are not just for me they are for everyone to pass around to see what they are like.

"I saw Chris' Olympic medals when I was younger and that's something I want to pass on as well."

There were 33 Scottish athletes on the ParalympicsGB team. Between them they won 17 medals - the team's best performance since 2004.

Libby Clegg secured half of the gold haul with her two medals on the track while Jo Butterfield won gold in the F51 club throw while Karen Darke took gold in the cycling H1-3 time trial.

Gordon Reid won gold in the wheelchair tennis men's singles.

Image caption First Minister Nicola Sturgeon arrives at the homecoming ceremony in the Oriam

Sportscotland chief executive Stewart Harris said earlier this month: "This represents the most successful overseas Games for Scots on Team GB and everyone in Scotland can be very proud of their success.

"It's testament to all the hard work by the athletes, sports, coaches and the collaboration between UK Sport and the sportscotland institute of sport that Scottish athletes are delivering record-breaking performances on the Olympic stage."

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the athletes were a credit to Scotland.

She said: "On behalf of the people of Scotland, I would like to offer my congratulations to all of the Scottish Olympians and Paralympians.

"They have done themselves and their country proud and will have inspired the next generation of athletes.

"Today's event was a fantastic way to celebrate the achievements of our athletes and it is hard to think of a more fitting venue for us to do this than at Oriam, Scotland's brand new, world class national performance centre."

Wheelchair tennis star Gordon Reid proudly showed off his gold and silver medals from Rio 2016 at Oriam.

He said: "It's been pretty crazy since I got back, the reception has been incredible.

"To be able to come back and share the success is nice and to see so many kids here is great.

"Hopefully the chance to see a gold or silver medal and maybe try it on will inspire them to go and do the same in the future. Days like this are really important."

Sportscotland chairman Mel Young said Oriam was chosen to stage the first celebration as it will be key to future Scottish sporting success.

"Sometimes in this country we're not so good at celebrating success so this is a big three cheers to everyone involved, and we need to build on it for the future.

"We're creating a world-class system here in Scotland with places like Oriam to create more success in the future but related to that, of course, we want more people participating in sport in the wider community, so it should be a win-win for society."

Image caption Olympians tried different sports during a day of celebrations at the Oriam in Edinburgh
Image caption Crowds turned out for the athletes to arrive at Festival Square in Edinburgh

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