Sydney welcomes home Rio 2016 heroes
Published 29 August 2016 (AEDT)
Welcome Home celebrations have kicked off in spectacular fashion with a massive crowd turning out to the Sydney Opera House to pay tribute to the amazing achievements of the Australian Olympic Team.
The morning began with a reception at Admiralty House hosted by the Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove as the Rio 2016 athletes were cheered on by a host of aspiring special Olympics stars.
The group heard from Sir Cosgrove, Chef de Mission Kitty Chiller and Closing Ceremony flagbearer Kim Brennan as the week of festivities officially got underway.
“Since we’ve got home the reception has been overwhelming and incredibly humbling,“ said Rio 2016 gold medallist Brennan.
“The Olympics are so special because they are incredibly rare but they’re also special because we are not only competing for ourselves but we are competing for our friends, family and everyone back home in Australia.
“These welcome home parades are a great opportunity for us to say thank you to the people of Australia for standing by us – they celebrated with us when things went right and they were a shoulder to cry on when they didn’t go right.”
After they jumped on a ferry for a quick tour of Sydney Harbour the athletes arrived to a rousing reception at the Opera House steps as the public were given their first chance to show their appreciation for the outstanding achievements of the athletes.
“It’s awesome to feel all the support,” sailing gold medallist Tom Burton said.
“For them to come to the Opera House to support all of the Olympic Team gives us a great feeling.
“It’s been a great turn out here and I’m really looking forward to all of the parades around the country.”
History-maker Ellia Green was one of a number of the gold-medal winning women’s rugby sevens squad in attendance and having been home for a few days the magnitude of what has been achieved is beginning to sink in.
“I think all of the Australian athletes have something to be very proud of.
“As Kitty Chiller has said a very small minority of people can say they are an Olympian and I’m sure Australia will show all the athletes how special they are.”
After Opening Ceremony flagbearer Anna Meares, NSW Premier Mike Baird, Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, Brennan, Burton and fellow Olympic gold medallist Chloe Esposito thanked the crowd, athletes posed for photos and signed plenty of autographs.
Celebrations will continue around the country with a host of events to be held in Melbourne, Adelaide, Hobart, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Perth and Canberra.
“It’s amazing to see how much support there is from the Australian public for all of the athletes in the Team and how they’ve represented the nation with both humility and excellence,” Chiller said.
“We can’t wait to continue to meet with fans around the country and pass on our thanks for their support throughout the Rio 2016 campaign.”
Wednesday will see the next public celebration as Melbourne fans will get a chance to meet and greet our Australian Olympians at Bourke Street Mall.