Snubbed athletes get their moment in street parade
TEENAGE swimming sensation Ariarne Titmus and inspirational para-sports great Kurt Fearnley will headline the Australian Commonwealth Games athletes to be lauded at a Brisbane street parade on Friday.
Closing flag-bearer Fearnley and Brisbane schoolgirl Titmus will be among a handful of gold medallists in the first of a series of public celebrations for Games athletes around Australia.
About 50, mostly Queensland-based sportsmen and women, will feature in the parade through Brisbane's CBD, starting at Reddacliff Place and weaving through Queen St Mall to King George Square.
As well as 17-year-old Titmus and Fearnley, 20km race walker Dane Bird-Smith and marathon runner Michael Shelley will be Commonwealth champions applauded for their efforts.
At the conclusion of the parade, Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk will hand the keys of the City to Fearnley, who will receive them on behalf of the team.
"Our athletes have worked incredibly hard for the fantastic results they achieved at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games," Cr Quirk said.
"There's no better way to celebrate their world-class effort than welcoming them home with a ticker-tape parade."
The event comes 12 days after the athletes were made to enter Carrara Stadium before the closing ceremony went to air, causing them to miss their final moment in the spotlight.
The closing ceremony sparked public outrage and saw Australia's official rights broadcaster, the Seven Network, blame the ceremony directors and the Games' host broadcaster for the decision.
Organising committee chairman Peter Beattie admitted and apologised for the mistake, before taking aim at "whingers".
Fearnley, who won the men's wheelchair marathon the morning of the closing ceremony, had played down the controversy, preferring to highlight the success of the Games.
"It was the best month of my life," he told AAP.
"The games was the best I've experienced in the world."
Fearnley said the parades were as much about athletes thanking the fans as the other way around.
Those attending the parade have been urged to dress in green and gold. Parades will be staged around Australia featuring local athletes and gold medallists in every state and territory until next Friday.