SPORTING champions praised the ‘Olympic spirit’ in Sheffield last night as thousands of people filled the city centre.
Heptathlete and city golden girl Jessica Ennis, one of the country’s blazing hopes for the London 2012 games, took to Twitter to praise the ‘great scenes’.
She said: “Amazing turn out, so exciting and Sheffield is doing us proud as always!”
Former England cricket captain and Sheffielder Michael Vaughan said: “If you think the Olympics is something happening 200 miles down the road, then think again. This city is a city of sport.”
Also among the crowds in Barker’s Pool were bob sleigh champions from across the globe.
Sheffield’s Fiona Harrison, driver from the Great Britain team, watched the torch light up Barker’s Pool with visiting Dutch athletes training at the English Institute of Sport.
She said: “It has been absolutely brilliant tonight and so busy it was a struggle to see - but we got a nice glimpse of the Olympic flame.
“Everyone has been coming up to us and having their pictures taken because we’ve got the sporting kit on.”
Three-time bob sleigh Olympian Nicola Minichiello, who lives in Sheffield and retired last year, said: ‘It’s just been fantastic, the atmosphere has been brilliant.
“It is great to see so many people getting into the Olympic spirit.
“It’s really exciting to have this just a few weeks away from the games.”
Shelley Rudman, a silver medallist at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in skeleton bob sleigh, spoke from the Barker’s Pool stage.
Shelley, of Fulwood, said afterwards: “I was so nervous. I couldn’t believe how many people were here.
“It was just incredible. You looked out and the crowd just went on and on and on.
“I had not seen that many people in one place since my Olympic ceremony.”