First published in The Age on August 17, 1996
Hail to our heroes
Olympic mania came to Melbourne yesterday as more than 100,000 people lined Swanston Street to welcome home Australia’s elite athletes.
The crowd waved little Australian flags and hurled streamers into the air as members of the Olympic team were driven by in convertibles.
As each Olympian was recognised people cheered while workers hung out of windows to throw confetti.
The Premier, Mr Jeff Kennett, stood on a podium at the Town Hall steps and beamed as the athletes clambered out of their sports cars and joined him on the platform. Beside him the Lord Mayor, Cr Ivan Deveson, In the heavy gold chains of his office, couldn’t stop grinning. He presented the keys of the city to the Oarsome Foursome’s Nick Green, who accepted it for the athletes.
Later a civic reception for the athletes was held In the Great Hall of the National Gallery.
Mr Kennett halted the achievements of the Olympians which he said had far exceeded expectations, considering Australia’s small population. As he spoke he was surrounded by some of Australia’s finest, including Susie O’Neil, Samantha Riley, Andrew Hoy, Daniel Kowalski and Kieren Perkins.