Welcome home celebrations wrap up in Canberra

Published 5 September 2016 (AEDT)

The Australian Olympic Team’s national welcome home celebrations have wrapped up with an action packed tour of Canberra on Monday.

After stops in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Hobart and Perth, the trip to the nation’s capital featured stops at two schools, a hospital and the War memorial.  

The day started at the Gilarang Primary School which is the workplace of Rio 2016 Olympian Lauren Wells.

The athletes arrived to a rousing reception before the athletes were asked plenty of questions about their Olympic journeys.

After helping out with sports class, the athletes signed plenty of autographs as they looked to inspire the next generation of Australian Olympians.

“It’s been absolutely fabulous having all of my fellow Olympians here telling their stories and making it a really experience for all the kids,” said Rio 2016 400m hurdler Lauren Wells who is also a learning assistant at the school.

“The kids asked some really great questions and made some beautiful welcome home signs and it was just fantastic.

“I think all the kids here have been very inspired by what they’ve seen today. I know from walking around the playground some of the kids now want to try hurdles, pole vault and all the other sports they’ve been watching.” 

After a quick stop at Ainslie Primary school where students were again able to get up close and personal with their favourite Olympic stars, the touring party headed to the Star Light room at Canberra Hospital.

It was there that they had the opportunity to play games, pose for photos and hand over their medals they’d worked so hard for, if only for a few minutes.

“It was really nice to see all the children smiling and give a little back for all the support they’ve given us while we were at the Games,“ Modern Pentathlon gold medallist Chloe Esposito said.

“They gave me a balloon and nice card from a boy named Carl to the whole team which was really beautiful.”

From there it was off to the National War Memorial. The site holds a special place in the hearts of all Australians and our Olympic athletes are no different.

The group, proudly wearing the green and gold tracksuits, paused for a moment of reflection on just how much our servicemen and women have given up for the athletes to get the chance to represent their country.

“It was an honour to be a part of the last post ceremony and honour the troops currently serving, those that have served and those that have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country,“ Josh Booth, who alongside Cate Campbell laid a wreath during the service, said.

“This really drives home how much of an honour it is for us to represent Australia.”

The night will finish with a function at the National Museum where the athletes will get the chance to thank the countless members of support staff that helped throughout the long Rio 2016 campaign.

Matt Bartolo
olympics.com.au

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