Last Updated: 20/09/12 11:49am
Plymouth College: The students and Olympic stars ahead of their bus parade
Hordes of homemade banners, jubilant crowds and lashings of Olympic and Paralympic spirit greeted athletes as Tom Daley and his colleagues lapped up the euphoria surrounding the London 2012 Games as Plymouth paid tribute to its young sporting stars on Wednesday.
The teenage diving sensation was among those joining in the open-top bus parade through the Devon city, as thousands of well-wishers packed the streets to pay tribute to the 18-year-old bronze medallist.
Ruta Meilutyte, the 15-year-old swimmer who won gold in the 100m women's breaststroke for her home country of Lithuania, was also among the athletes taking part in the event.
The pair waved from the balcony of Plymouth College, where Daley and Meilutyte are studying for their A-Levels and GCSEs respectively, before boarding the bus as it made its hour-long route through the city streets.
Others in the parade included divers Sarah Barrow and Tonia Couch, swimmers Antony James, Jamila Lunkuse and Jade Howard, wheelchair basketball player Judith Hamer, fencer Corinna Lawrence and Paralympic table tennis player David Wetherill.
Andy Banks, Daley's diving coach, and Meilutyte's swimming coach Jon Rudd, also took part in the celebration, which included a stop at the new multimillion-pound Plymouth Life Centre, where many of the city's athletes train.
Each athlete was given a rousing reception as they were presented to the crowd which had gathered near the city plaza to welcome them off the bus.
"I would just like to say thank you from all of us."
Tom Daley Quotes of the week
However, the biggest cheer was reserved for Daley, wearing his TeamGB tracksuit and bronze medal.
Addressing the crowd - several members of which tried to catch his attention with shouts of "I love you, Tom" - the diving star said: "Today has been crazy. The number of people who have lined the streets and the foot bridges - thank you for coming.
"It has been pretty crazy since the Olympic Games. Going through town or going out it is literally mental all the time. But it is back to school now, back to reality."
Daley also thanked staff at Plymouth College, where the teenager is studying for his A-Levels.
He added: "They have been incredible supporting us, adapting timetables, making sure we can train."
Speaking between screams from younger members of the audience, Daley added: "I would just like to say thank you from all of us."
The athletes' bus was followed for a short distance by a procession of the city's Games Makers, many of whom later attended a civic reception at the Council House, hosted by the Lord Mayor, Michael Wright. Dr Oskaras Jusys, the Lithuanian Ambassador, was also among guests at the reception.
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