Local Olympians Melissa Tancredi and Reid Coolsaet joined fellow members of Canada's Olympic and Paralympic teams on the streets of downtown Toronto Friday during a parade to celebrate their successes at the 2012 London Games.
About 200 Olympians and Paralympians waved and exchanged greetings with fans as they travelled on floats and foot, and made their way toward Maple Leaf Square in front of the Air Canada Centre during the half-hour parade.
"This is incredible. It's incredible to see," said Melissa Tancredi, a forward with Canada's bronze-medal-winning women's soccer team. "I wish I had this when I was younger — an opportunity to go out and see Olympians, see the people you were watching on TV, and just meet them and share your stories with them. It's an honour for me to represent my country and it's an honour for me to come out here and meet the fans who watched us."
Connie Lee was at the parade to cheer on her son, bronze-medal-winning canoeist Mark Oldershaw.
"I mean, it’s awesome. And it’s really cool and it's so nice of Canada to make this big celebration for them, because after is when you want to celebrate … and most people have forgotten," she said.
The parade is the final event of the Olympic Heroes Tour. On Thursday, members of Team Canada visited schools and hospitals in Toronto, and attended a gala dinner.
Athletes get standing ovation
Trampoline darling Rosie MacLennan, Canada's only Olympic gold medallist in London in August, and Paralympian Jason Crone, who helped his team win silver in wheelchair rugby, visited Central Technical School in downtown Toronto.
The pair received a standing ovation from students who packed the school's auditorium.
"Being able to show them the medals [and see] the support that they give us, this is why were able to bring these home for Canada," Crone said while holding his medal.
MacLennan, who trains just north of Toronto in Richmond Hill, hopes the tour will spur student interest in sports.
"It's exciting because you see first-hand and feel [the] energy and support you had the whole way through."
Canada won one gold, five silver and 12 bronze medals in London to finish 13th in the overall standings with 18 medals. That was just below the Canadian Olympic Committee's target of a top-12 finish.
At the Paralympics, which were held soon after, Canada finished 13th in the overall standings with 31 medals: seven gold, 15 silver and nine bronze.