Olympians glad to be home
Wed, 15 Aug 2012 5:36p.m.
By Samantha Hayes
Some of the triumphant Olympic team have arrived home to Auckland with their medals proudly on display.
The medal haul from London equals the most we've ever won – Seoul in 1988 – and the athletes were happy to share their success with the crowd of well-wishers.
The crowd was smaller than in the Olympic arenas, but the welcome even sweeter.
"It's awesome to be home," says rower Mahe Drysdale.
They arrived to cheers, handshakes and hugs at the same airport many had left to begin their Olympic campaign three months ago.
As gold medallist Hamish Bond put it: "Mission accomplished."
Everyone was keen to get a closer look at the winning medals – some were a little worse for wear.
"One hit a beer glass the other day," says Eric Murray.
The reception was emotional for the rowers.
"It's pretty overwhelming, it's pretty amazing, makes you really proud to be a New Zealander and to see the effect it's had on anyone," says gold medallist Nathan Cohen.
Drysdale's mother was there at Eton Dorney, but still almost missed the occasion.
"I was right near the finish line at the course when I saw him, but I didn't see him because I was crying," says Robin Owen.
Drysdale's fans skipped school to greet him. He says he's exhausted not because of the racing, but the partying.
"Looking forward to putting my feet up, it's been a pretty tough week after the Olympics catching up with people and celebrating so it's nice to be home."
After being at the peak of physical fitness, some of the competitors have returned home with coughs and colds. The elite athletes carefully guard against illness during the Games, but quickly become vulnerable afterwards.
"I got sick last time after Beijing as well," says BMXer Sarah Walker. "I think it's just your body is so highly strung for those days and moments before you race, and afterwards. When it's all over you kind of just relax and the bugs creep in."
Walker was only eight when she decided to become an Olympian, and has inspired some more young riders with her success.
The athletes now have a little downtime before the official welcome ceremony in Christchurch next Friday. Until then, relaxing is the order of the day.
"I'll tell you, the belly's growing a little bit," says Murray.
And after a games like that, why not?
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