GOLD medal winners Nicola Adams and Max Whitlock led Great Britain’s record-breaking Olympians off the plane as stars of Rio 2016 arrived back at Heathrow on Tuesday.
Having exceeded their haul from the London Games of 2012, Team GB brought back 67 medals from the Rio Olympics, their highest number from an overseas Games.
A large number of athletes arrived at Heathrow shortly before 10am.
The British Airways flight back to London saw the athletes post several pictures to social media, with many joining the captain in the cockpit for a photo opportunity and groups gathering for pictures in the cabin.
Rower Helen Glover, who took her second successive gold medal in the women’s coxless pairs, revealed how the passengers had started their journey home.
“Team GB just stood up before the flight left and belted out ‘God Save The Queen’ as it played over the tannoy. #proud,” she posted on Twitter.
Double gold-winning gymnast Whitlock showed off some moves on the gold-nosed plane, with flight number BA2016 welcomed into its bay at Terminal 5 by a host of airport staff and media.
With #goodtobeBAck emblazoned on the side of the plane and a Union Jack added after landing, Whitlock and boxer Adams - who defended her women’s flyweight gold - were the pair chosen to lead Team GB off the plane.
Former Olympic champion Sally Gunnell told BBC News the idea of leading a successful team home can spur athletes on to Tokyo 2020.
“What inspires you to carry on is that you want to be that person at the front,” Gunnell said.
“You are aiming for four years and thinking, ‘I want to be at the front next time’. I love watching all this, it is lovely to see the excitement of the whole team.” Read more
Team GB’s stunning success at the Games - which saw their biggest medal haul in a century with 27 golds, 23 silvers and 17 bronzes - drew the praise of the Queen and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The sovereign offered her “warmest congratulations” for an “remarkable achievement”.
The Duke and Duchess, meanwhile, lauded the athlete’s achievement as an “inspiration to us all, young and old”.
Among the breakout stars of the 2016 Games in Brazil were three-times gold medallist Jason Kenny, who matched Sir Chris Hoy’s record six golds with his efforts in the velodrome.
Not to be outdone, his fiancee Laura Trott secured two gold medals of her own in the team pursuit and omnium.
In the pool, Adam Peaty smashed his own world record en route to winning the gold medal in breaststroke, Team GB’s first swimming medal in the men’s competition for 28 years.
Many stars of London 2012 also 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.
The Prime Minister announced that the triumph in Rio will be commemorated with a parade in Manchester and a further event in London in October.