Better than London 2012? Team GB heroes touch down at Heathrow following historic Rio Olympics medal haul

Frank Dalleres
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More than 300 members of Team GB arrived back in London on Tuesday following the Rio Olympics (Source: Getty)

Britain's Olympic heroes arrived home on Tuesday still aglow from their success in Rio, with some athletes even describing the Games as better than its predecessor in London four years ago.

Some 320 Team GB members touched down at Heathrow to cheers from airline staff before being applauded off flight BA2016, which had been aptly decorated with a golden nose cone.

Great Britain surpassed expectations in Brazil by finishing second in the medal table, behind only the United States and ahead of China for the first time in modern Olympic history.

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They amassed 67 medals, of which 27 were gold, and in doing so became the first nation to improve on their tally as hosts – they won 65 in London – in the following Games.

“To be the only nation to better themselves after a home Games is incredible,” said Katherine Grainger, whose rowing silver medal in Rio saw her become Britain’s most decorated female Olympian.

“There is an immense sense of pride as the medals came rolling in and it was just infectious. To add to the medal target personally was such a special moment. It really was the best Games in my opinion.

“The lovely thing is that after London 2012 we thought it could not be replicated, that feeling of uniting a nation, but the reaction here at Heathrow is just a small taste of what is to come.

“It has felt like it’s been a tough year for the country and the good thing about sport is that it unites the country with some good news, for a short time at least.”

Double-gold winning gymnast Max Whitlock, boxer Nicola Adams, who retained her title, and Alistair Brownlee, the first man to win successive Olympic triathlons, were also among the passengers.

Team GB joined in a rendition of God Save The Queen before take off and later enjoyed a three-course meal and 77 bottles of champagne.

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