Olympic heroes back on British soil after one of greatest performances ever

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 (Lucy Young)
(Lucy Young)

Dozens of British Olympic heroes were arriving at Heathrow on Monday to be hailed by cheering crowds after they delivered one of the greatest Team GB performances in the Games’ history.

Cycling couple Jason and Laura Kenny were among those who touchdowned in London early on Monday afternoon on the last official flight back from Tokyo 2020 following Sunday’s closing ceremony.

The pair, who now have 12 golds between them, were among the standout performers at Britain’s second most successful Olympics on foreign soil.

Team GB athletes secured 22 golds, five fewer than in 2016, but the overall haul of 65 medals was only two behind the Rio record and matched the total at London 2012.

Monday’s British Airways flight from Tokyo’s Haneda airport — due to arrive at 1.10pm — was responsible for bringing home eight gold, nine silver and three bronze medals, with a combined weight of 10.298 kilograms.

The remaining athletes flying home with British Airways on Monday are from the boxing, track cycling, modern pentathlon and the athletic teams.

They were among those who touched down in London on Monday (British Airways)
They were among those who touched down in London on Monday (British Airways)

BA said it had awarded medal winners an executive card status to match the colour of the medal that they won in the Games.

Many competitors have already come home as strict Covid rules meant they were limited in where they could go outside the Olympic Village after their events.

Diver Tom Daley, who won a gold and bronze medal, posted a video of his Heathrow homecoming Sunday afternoon.

He greeted crowds of fans as he emerged into the Terminal Five arrivals hall with his medals around his neck. Another shot showed him clinking glasses of champagne in the back of a car.

Others who arrived back at Heathrow on Sunday included canoeist Liam Heath and runner Richard Kilty.

Heath, who won bronze in the K1 200 metres and is Team GB’s most successful ever canoeist, was reunited with his three-year-old daughter Sarah, who ran towards him as he arrived in the terminal.

The Kennys were being reunited with their three-year-old son Albie after a two-week absence. Jason, 33, who won a gold in the keirin and silver in the team sprint, is now Britain’s most decorated Olympian.

Laura, 29, who won gold in the madison and silver in the team pursuit, is the most successful ever female Olympic athlete and was the British flagbearer at the closing ceremony.

They are already been tipped for a knighthood and a damehood in the New Year honours.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the nation’s successful Olympians have demonstrated “there is no limit to what we can achieve”, adding: “Thank you Team GB. We are so, so proud of you. Now, bring on Paris!”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said the athletes have shown “strength, passion and determination”.

Team GB chief executive Andy Anson said: “No industry has suffered more than the airline industry, but British Airways has gone over and above to support Team GB in every possible way.

“With athletes and staff coming home every single day, the flexibility they have shown to accommodate last minute changes has been incredible.”

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