Region's champions are back

It was the moment they had been waiting for.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 24th August 2016, 5:00 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 7:41 pm

And family, friends and supporters of Team GB’s golden squad gave them a heroes’ welcome as they touched down on home soil for the first time after securing the nation’s best ever Olympics.

Yorkshire’s own champion athletes were greeted to applause as they filed out of the gold-nosed plane at Headrow Airport yesterday, before travelling back to the region.

Their triumphant return comes as the nation took home its biggest ever haul of 67 medals in Rio - one more than in 2012.

And Yorkshire’s sensational athletes were responsible for 14 of those medals.

The prestigious list of top medal-winning athletes from the region includes Leeds boxer Nicola Adams, Sheffield’s Jess Ennis-Hill and Leeds’s double-medallist diver Jack Laugher.

Mr Laugher’s mother, Jackie, told The Yorkshire Post of her pride after her son’s record-breaking Olympics.

She said: “It’s absolutely smashing to have him back home. As soon as he touched down in the UK on the plane he sent me a message.

“It’s really nice to have him back in the country and I can’t wait to see him.

“There are no words to describe how proud I am of him and his achievements, his dedication and the hard work he has put in.”

City of Leeds Diving Club member Jack, 21, who lives in Leeds with fellow gold medal diver Chris Mears, made history by winning a gold and silver medal in the discipline.

Yorkshire’s triathlon champions and brothers Alistair and Jonny Brownlee - who won a gold and silver medal in the men’s event this year - touched down for the first time since the Games, at Leeds and Bradford Airport yesterday.

And Leeds’s Golden Girl Nicola Adams arrived back in the city after famously becoming the first British Olympic boxer in nearly 100 years to defend her flyweight title in Rio last week.

Gold medal winners from Yorkshire this year include Barnsley cyclist Ed Clancy and rowers Tom Ransley, Paul Bennett and Andrew Triggs Hodge,

Other athletes to win medals were athletes gymnast Nile Wilson, sprint cyclist Katy Marchant, women’s triathlete Vicky Holland, Richmond rower Zoe Lee and Sheffield gymnast Bryony Page.

After becoming the first diver to win a gold in the discipline in more than 100 years, Yorkshire’s Mr Laugher went on to be the first British diver to take home two medals from a single Games.

Mrs Laugher added: “Jack was destined for doing something sporty.

“I couldn’t hold him down when he was little - he was always a very active boy.

“As soon as he was in Team GB and he knew he was going to the Olympics, that’s all he wanted to do.

“He is 21 now but for the last four years he has been getting around and doing his training and he has had the support of the whole family.”

More than 300 athletes and staff travelled back from Rio in a gold-nosed British Airways Boeing 747 with “victoRIOus” emblazoned on the side.

Team GB finished second in the medals table, behind the USA.

A number of the nation’s 2012 stars defended their crowns at this year’s Olympics, including Mo Farah on the track, Nicola Adams in the boxing ring and Jade Jones on the taekwondo mats.

Team GB’s chef de mission, Mark England, paid tribute to athletes who took part in the Games, and said their welcome after the squad arrived home, when Leeds’s Ms Adams stepped out first alongside gymnastic champion Max Whitlock, was “overwhelming”.

He said: “As we attended the Games, we had high hopes for success from the most talented team that we had ever taken away.”

More than 35 per cent of British athletes who went to Rio returned home with an Olympic medal.