Manchester

Defiant crowds turn out for Manchester's annual Great City Games

Pole vaulting
Image caption The annual Great City Games included pole vaulting, long jump, various sprints and hurdles

Hundreds of people lined the streets of Manchester for a celebrated athletics event, putting thoughts of Monday's bombing to one side.

Crowds gathered in the city's Albert Square and an Deansgate for the annual Great City Games.

The event was allowed to go ahead following police advice in light of the UK's critical terror warning, with armed officers patrolling the area.

Some spectators said they felt it was important to attend in a show of unity.

But others reported feeling "nervous", despite the increased security.

The event saw elite athletes take part in a range of events including pole vaulting, long jump, various sprints and hurdles.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption There was a heavy police presence as crowds gathered
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Greater Manchester Run and the Great City Games are both being staged this weekend

Several minute's silence were held in memory of the victims of the attack.

Tricia Barker, from Rossendale in Lancashire, attended with her 27-year-old son Aaron.

She said: "I suppose I have been a lot more aware of my surroundings coming here today. It is in the back of your mind, you can't help it.

"But you've just got to carry on as normal. It's just so sad what's happened."

Her son said he would be attending the concert by the Courteeners at Old Trafford cricket ground on Saturday.

"Staying away is not going to change anything. Me and my mates have spoken about it but we're not changing our plans," he said.

Authorities have also given permission for the Manchester 10k to go ahead on Sunday.

Image caption Christina Bell watched some of the athletics after having a bee - a symbol of Manchester - tattooed on her back
Image caption An athlete prepares to compete in the women's pole vault at the event in Albert Square

Catiana Zignani travelled from London to Manchester with her sister, Carla, and other family members, as part of a trip arranged before the bombing.

She said: "It's shocking to see so many police on the streets. It's horrible what's happened.

"We talked about whether we should still come, but we decided it was the right thing to do."

Christina Bell, of Rusholme, arrived in Albert Square fresh from a nearby tattoo parlour where she had a bee inked on her shoulder.

Manchester is adorned with the bee emblem, which is a legacy of the city's textile industry.

Image caption Monique Halliwell and her son Alex Culbert laid tributes in memory of the victims of Monday's bombing
Image caption Armed police patrolled the event in Albert Square and Deansgate

The 22-year-old restaurant worker said: "I paid £50 for it and it's part of an appeal to support the families of the victims.

"The whole thing has really hit home for me, because I actually used to work at the Arena, and still know staff there. You just feel helpless."

Monique Halliwell came with her 16-year-old son, Alex Culbert, to lay a floral tribute in Albert Square and to watch some of the event.

She said she refused to change any of her routines at all following the attack.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sisters Catiana and Carla Zignani attended as part of a family trip to the city

"I'm just going to keep doing what I do normally. You have to," she said.

Alex, whose father is a police officer, added: "He was doing 15 hour shifts but they are just doing their jobs. You've just got to keep calm and carry on."

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, who also attended the event, said: "The terrorists want to divide us. But we're stronger together. That's what Greater Manchester is all about."

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