Family, friends, and fans all gathered in the arrivals area of the London International Airport to welcome back London’s home-grown athletes from the Rio Olympics.
Bronze medalists with the women’s soccer team Shelina Zadorsky and Jessie Fleming proudly showed off their hardware, while women’s basketball team member Miranda Ayim shared hugs with relatives.
Each athlete was thankful for the support they’d received in Rio from Canadians, but it was clearly nice to be back.
“It’s pretty surreal, but it’s really hitting home now,” said Zadorsky. “I mean, we felt the support in Rio, but now we get to see it face to face which is really special.”
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For Fleming, who is 18 years old, there won’t be much down time at home as she leaves for UCLA on Thursday.
She said her favourite moments from the Olympics came on the field.
“Starting with the first game, I think the whole tournament, just getting the opportunity to play in the Olympics. I think everything came together really nicely as a team, and we won five out of six games so it’s hard not to enjoy that.”
The women’s soccer team beat Brazil 2-1 after falling to Germany 2-0 in the semi-final, allowing them to defend their bronze from London in 2012.
Meanwhile, Zadorsky said nothing matched winning her medal.
“Just that final whistle against Brazil, in Brazil, and being able to share that moment with my teammates on the pitch and with the staff, and really just coming together and celebrating that moment,” she said.
Despite having high hopes heading into Rio, the Canadian women’s basketball team was knocked out in the quarter-final by France.
However, Miranda Ayim is optimistic about the future of the team.
“We’re a little disappointed, but everybody going into the Olympics has high hopes and I guess it wasn’t our time this time,” she said. “For the next four years, I think it’s only going to go up. I think the growth is going to be exponential. We have a lot of young players coming up just in college and coming out of college or even in high school that are going to add to the program, and I think in the next Olympics we’re going to make some noise.”
Canadians returned home with 22 medals in their haul, a four medal increase from their efforts during the last Summer Olympics in London, England.
Bronze medalist in the decathlon, Damian Warner, is expected to return home tomorrow along with high jump gold medalist, and Corunna native, Derek Drouin.
With files from Travis Dolynny