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Thousands stream into Invercargill for Olympians

Published: 6:38AM Thursday August 23, 2012 Source: ONE News

Thousands of Southlanders lined the streets of Invercargill today to welcome home their Olympic heroes with a ticker tape parade.

The region's first gold medallist, rower Nathan Cohen, said he expected no-one to turn out but he and the six other Southland Olympians were blown away by the local support.

Cohen was joined by Storm and Jade Uru, Louise Ayling, Natalie Wiegersma, Eddie Dawkins and Natasha Hansen on the parade.

"Today's my first day back in Invercargill and to have this welcome is pretty unreal, we're pretty lucky," cyclist Natasha Henson said.

Rower Louise Aisling agreed: "It's cool, it's amazing, it's so cool to come home and have this."

The council provided the crowds with ten of thousands of streamers, which turned the main street into a multi-coloured cavalcade as the Olympians passed through.

Cohen and bronze medallist rower Storm Uru also dropped into their former school, James Hargest College, to speak to students.

"I've been calling the teachers by Mr Brown, Mr Smith, it doesn't feel like you've moved on and then you pull out your Olympic medal and you get mobbed," Uru said.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt said the whole event was "uplifting and inspirational" for the locals.

Christchurch is set to host a big welcome for all the Kiwi Olympians in Hagley Park tomorrow, after many other towns have revelled in the success of their local heroes. The event will be live streamed on

Yesterday thousands of people turned up to welcome home the bronze medal-winning equestrian team in the Waikato town of Cambridge, long-known as the home of New Zealand's horse industry as well as equestrian legends Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson.

And Olympic sailing heroes Blair Tuke and Peter Burling were last week welcomed in Northland with a ticker tape parade in Kerikeri.