GREAT BRITAIN’S triumphant Olympians have touched down at Heathrow following the most successful Games in more than a century.
A total of 320 athletes and support staff travelled back from Rio in a gold-nosed British Airways Boeing 747 with “victoRIOus” emblazoned on the side.
Stars including swimmer Adam Peaty and rower Helen Glover will face a media press conference shortly at the Sofitel Heathrow hotel.
— Heathrow Airport (@HeathrowAirport) August 23, 2016
Athletes posted selfies with medals and glasses of champagne on board the flight as they celebrated becoming the first country to better a home medal count at the following Olympics.
Among the breakout performers were three-times cycling gold medallist Jason Kenny, who matched Sir Chris Hoy’s record six golds and his fiancee, Laura Trott, who secured two gold medals of her own.
— Asha Philip (@MissAshaPhilip) August 23, 2016
Kenny, who returned earlier with Trott, told ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Tuesday: “It still feels a bit surreal, to be honest with you. I just noticed earlier today that it was still less than a week ago that we were racing in Rio, which is bizarre.
“It is now sinking in. As we go out for dinner, people are coming up and saying ‘Well done’ and buying us drinks – I don’t think we have bought a single drink since we have come back.”
— British Airways (@British_Airways) August 23, 2016
Team GB won 67 medals – 27 golds – and finished second in the table behind the USA.
Many stars of London 2012 successfully defended their crowns four years on, including Mo Farah on the track, Nicola Adams in the boxing ring and Jade Jones on the taekwondo mats.
Just over 35% of British athletes who went to Rio returned with a medal – including every single track cycling member.
Bling on a plane. pic.twitter.com/3LqGyyT4ht
— Helen Glover (@Helenglovergb) August 22, 2016
Trampolinist Kat Driscoll told BBC News as soon as BA2016 landed: “It’s beenincredible, they played the national anthem before we left. It has been a reallynice way to end it.”
Speaking about how it was different to London 2012, she said: “All the extra emotions you normally get from a crowd you have to get from your team mates. That part I have really, really enjoyed.”
— Moe Sbihi (@moesbihi) August 23, 2016
Rower Helen Glover tweeted: “Team GB just stood up before the flight left and belted out ‘God save the Queen’ as it played over the tannoy. £proud”
Hockey gold medallist Susannah Townsend tweeted a picture of the hockey team with the caption: “Memories that will last a lifetime!! Time to head home! Thank you Rio, you have been amazing!”
Athletes took selfies in the cockpit wearing pilot hats, posing with their medals and sipping champagne, sharing the images on social media.
Images from the journey show double gold medal-winning gymnast Max Whitlock performing a handstand during the flight.
He and boxer Adams emerged first from the plane with their gold medals on display, waving and posing for the cameras.
The rest of the team then streamed down the stairs and assembled for pictures at the bottom. They were greeted by cheers and applause from the waiting press and airport staff.