Medal-laden Team GB returns to UK from Rio Olympics

Team GB's triumphant Olympians arrived at Heathrow singing the national anthem as their gold-nosed British Airways jet touched down on home soil.

Team GB touched down at Heathrow with 67 medals, including 27 gold and 23 silver  their best performance in over a century. Picture: Getty Images
Team GB touched down at Heathrow with 67 medals, including 27 gold and 23 silver  their best performance in over a century. Picture: Getty Images

The “most talented” Team GB squad ever took selfies on the flight, with double gold-medallist Max Whitlock trying out some of his gymnastics routine on the first-class seats.

There were many notable performances from Team GB’s 48 Scottish competitors – the largest in a British team at an overseas Olympics – with gold medals for Callum Skinner, Katie Archibald, Heather Stanning and Andy Murray.

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In total Scots won 13 medals while overall the British team returned home with a total of 67, their best result since the First World War, and bettered only by the London Games of 1908 when there were far fewer nations competing.

Calls have continued to grow for a public celebration to mark the achievements of Scotland’s Olympic heroes.

Sportscotland has announced it will hold a celebration at the 400-seater Oriam, the national sports performance centre at Heriot-Watt University.

However, its small scale has sparked demands from sports figures and politicians for a larger, more inclusive event like the parade which was held following the 2012 London Games.

Team GB’s chef de mission Mark England paid tribute to all the athletes who had travelled to Rio and described the reception in London as “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.”

Scots silver medal-winning rower Katherine Grainger, from Glasgow, said she felt the timing had been right, especially given recent political turmoil.

She said:”I think the lovely thing is that the London Games were undoubtedly embraced by the nation. I think we all felt that almost couldn’t be replicated, it couldn’t happen again, it was a once-in-a-lifetime moment.

“It has almost felt like it has been a tough year for the country, a lot has happened politically in the nation in the last few months. I think the nice thing about sport is it does unite people and it lifts people.

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“So, yeah, I think it is the time and the place and the timing means that it is one of the best Olympics – the best sporting events we probably ever had.”

World record-breaking swimmer Adam Peaty said not being intimidated by “big names” such as Michael Phelps was key to winning Britain’s first male swimming gold in 28 years. He said: “It was an absolute honour to be in one of the first events. Even when I’m on my last legs, completely dead, it was good to get the team a good head start.”

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.

Team GB won 67 medals, including 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 per cent of British athletes who went to Rio returned with a medal, including every single track cycling member.