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Trinidad and Tobago’s only gold medallist gets awarded a lighthouse

Team GB’S gold medallists may be happy with a stamp and golden postbox, but it doesn’t add up to the reward given to one Olympic champion - a lighthouse.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Keshorn Walcott was showered with gifts as he returned home, including a £98,000 new home and a lighthouse.

The 19-year-old threw 84.58m (277ft) in the javelin to win his country’s first ever gold medal in a field event.

He received a hero’s welcome yesterday – declared a national holiday on the island to celebrate his win.

And there were plenty of other treats for Olympians around the world as they arrived home from London 2012.

South African 800m runner Caster Semenya was given £15,000 for winning a silver medal.

Russian Olympians were showered with petals as fans headed to Moscow airport in their droves to greet them.

And Canadian athletes were mobbed on their return. Women’s football bronze medallist Karina LeBlanc said: ‘It’s overwhelming. I didn’t expect this much support.’



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Now everybody's going overboard with the "Welcome Home" business.

We've been doing the welcome backs for a long time now, so nothing new for us.In the next few weeks we'll probably also have the city parades in Sydney and Melbourne.:


All I did was cry': emotional homecoming for Olympians


Family and friends cheered and clapped and a children's choir sang I Still Call Australia Home as the athletes - some wearing their medals around their necks - walked down a set of stairs from a Qantas "boxing kangaroo" plane just after 7.30am.

They were greeted at the door of the plane by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce.

About 500 family members and friends gathered at a Sydney hangar to welcome Australia's Olympics athletes back from London.

Nathan Outteridge, a gold medallist in the men's sailing 49er skiff class, said it was "awesome to come home to such a reception" and be welcomed home by his sister Haylee and brother Beau.

"We are so proud of him. We were in London and that time with him was really special," Ms Outteridge said.

But, unlike Jackson, he was clear about whether he would compete at the next Olympics.

"This is it. I'm an old man and it's time to move on to another part of my life," he said.

Ms Gillard praised the athletes for their achievements as Olympians and thanked them for their efforts.

"You did great things in London 2012 and I know you are going to do great things in Rio in four years' time," she said.

Suzanne Smith, the mother of Tate Smith, one of the K4 1000m rowing gold medallists, spoke of her delight of her son's success at the Games.

Ms Smith, who was at the hangar with Tate Smith's young cousins Kye and Ryan, returned from London yesterday and said she was only able to watch her son's race in full last night.

"All I did was just cry," she said about what she did when she saw her son win.

Tom and Maryann Walsh, the uncle and aunt of 21-year-old water polo player Aidan Roach, said they were very proud of his achievements in his first Olympics outing.

"He's always aimed to represent Australia ... since Sydney," Mrs Walsh said.

"He spent two seasons in Serbia to get world-class experience. He dedicated all his time to training and lived in simple conditions.

"I think there will be a rest in store for him now."

Mr Walsh said that, if his nephew competed in Rio, "in four years it'll be my ambition to watch him play".

Prue Brigden-Jones travelled to London with her family to watch her sister Joanne race in the K4 500m kayak event and described the atmosphere as unbelievable.

"I kept getting goose bumps as I watched her race. We are not used to seeing so many people watching kayaking," Ms Bridgen-Jones said.

"I've always loved the Olympics but having a sister in it is really cool. She loved the experience."

Silva, who did not give her last name, came to the hangar to welcome home her son's partner, Brooke Pratley. She spoke of how she was inspired by the athletes' dedication to their sport.

Pratley and Kim Crow won silver in the women's doubles sculls.

"I'm proud of all the Olympians because of the amount of training and dedication they put in. They wouldn't have been there otherwise," Silva said.

"And it's not just the dedication of the athlete but also the entire family and everyone around supporting them constantly."

Ms Gillard was also present at the hangar and spoke to various family members and friends as a large group of people gathered around her.

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The Germans have gone up the gangplank on the Isle of Dogs (Canary Wharf) and will be in Hamburg tomorrow morning. A nice idea.

The "Deutschland" arrived in Hamburg today - the Hamburg citizens welcomed the German team with a huge party - here some pics:




After the German team left the ship in the harbour of Hamburg they were welcomed on the NDR stage (NDR = North German TV) - later the team was brought by little boats to the city hall


that is the city hall square with a crowd and some tents


Some of the German team on the city hall balcony


members of the German team sign the "golden book of the city"


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Team New Zealand arrived home minus Queen Valerie. She's in Sitzerland for a circut meet and was there when news broke of her crown being returned.

Christchurch will be the official welcome home parade next week. Christchurch is the offical sports base for thr NZOC and will be used to launch the sports hub rebuild.

An official medal presentation ceremony is still being nutted out with the IOC.

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The "Deutschland" arrived in Hamburg today - the Hamburg citizens welcomed the German team with a huge party - here some pics:

Did you go and watch it come in Marts? Must've ben funny seeing it every day at South Quay, then see it back in Hamburg.

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This year’s Olympic medalists on Red Square on Wednesday preparing to receive black Audi sedans for their performances in the London Games. The Russian Olympians Foundation, financed by wealthy businessmen, gave them the cars to accompany cash prizes doled out by the fund.

After a closed ceremony in the Kremlin hosted by President Vladimir Putin, the athletes ventured out onto Red Square, where 129 black Audis, accompanied by 129 hired drivers, ties flapping in the wind, were waiting on the cobblestone slope behind St. Basil's Cathedral.


Gold medal winners received Audi A8s, which sell new for $120,000. Silver medalists got A7s ($75,000), and bronze medalists got A6s ($50,000).


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NKorean Olympians return home to heroes' welcome

Thousands of North Koreans have turned out with cheers and banners to welcome their country's Olympic medalists home from London.

North Korean athletes won four golds and two bronzes to finish 20th in the medals standing. It was the country's best performance since the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

The Olympians waved bouquets from a bus as they paraded through Pyongyang on Thursday before laying the flowers at the statues of late leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. North Korean athletes routinely credit the country's leaders for strong performances.

Sports are hugely popular in North Korea, and its Olympic medalists are treated like heroes. Mun Un Ju told The Associated Press she followed the Summer Games avidly on TV and came with her family to wish the winners well.



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The best and worst countries to be a returning athlete

The Olympics have left in their wake a glut of sports metaphors and even a few diplomatic spats, but the games themselves are over. The athletes are heading home - in fact, many left before the closing ceremonies last Sunday night. Some will receive heroes' welcomes, others, less so. Where are the best and worst places to go home to as an international athlete?

The Best Countries:

North Korea: The DPRK loves a success story, especially when they're so few and far between. North Korea walked away from the Olympics with six medals, including three golds in weightlifting -- perfect for a country that prizes industriousness and sings the praises of "excellent horse-like ladies." The North Korean propaganda machine is ecstatic, boasting about the surging popularity of weightlifting and thumbing its nose at the West. After receiving a barrage of flowers upon their return, the medalists can look forward to other rewards, including cars and refrigerators.

United States: The U.S. Olympic Committee offers bonuses for medals earned, up to $25,000 for a gold medal, and some sports federations offer rewards as well, though these pale in comparison to other countries (Singapore has promised to shell out $1 million for a gold, and will be paying out $250,000 to each of its two bronze medalists this year. China, Russia and Italy each pay more than $100,000 for athletes who strike gold.) These earnings may even come tax-free, if an effort by a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers succeeds. The real money comes in endorsements, though, which are often measured in millions of dollars and can add up quickly. And then there are the reality TV show offers.

Trinidad and Tobago: The tiny island nation is happy just to be recognized as a competitor. The team may not have won a single game at the 2006 World Cup, but they were welcomed back with parties, national honors and financial rewards, and that was just for making it through the prelims. That bodes well for the 2012 T &T team, which became the most decorated in the country's history with four medals this year. So far, they've had a holiday in their honor, and gold medalist Keshorn Walcott has had a lighthouse, a plane, and a housing development named after him.

Any country that's never medaled before: A country's first Olympic medal is sure to evoke national pride. Cyprus' first-ever medalist, Pavlos Kontides, was decked with a laurel wreath and greeted at the airport by saluting fire trucks and throngs of fans. Guatemala's Erick Barrondo, who took home silver in race walking, was made a Knight of the Order of the Sovereign Congress. And the whole island of Grenada got a half-day holiday in honor of Kirani James' gold medal in the 400 meters.

The Worst Countries:

Not all athletes have a reason to look forward to going home. In Canada, athletes have faced unemployment challenges, and in Australia, Tanzania, and elsewhere, athletes are already dealing with a disappointed press. A Dutch show jumping horse named London, which leapt to two silver medals with rider Gerco Schroder, might not even leave England after being seized as part of an ongoing bankruptcy proceeding. It could be worse, though.

Kenya and Nigeria: Kenya had its worst outing in decades, and though its athletes brought home 11 medals, it placed behind African rivals Ethiopia and South Africa in the final tally. Nigeria came up completely empty handed. The governments of both countries have ordered public inquiries into what went wrong, and Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan announced a comprehensive overhaul of the country's sports system. As bad as the looming firings may be for Kenyan and Nigerian Olympic officials, the acerbic press reaction might be worse. Choice headlines include "Kenya's Olympic Fiasco," "Dark secrets of Team Kenya emerge," and from Nigeria's Vanguard, "Olympic Flops Return Home."

North Korea: We might not know what happens to North Korea's non-medalists, but we hope the country's one win-two loss record women's soccer team (a 9th place finish) doesn't share the fate of the 2010 DPRK World Cup team. After dropping out in three straight losses, the World Cup team was publicly humiliated in a six-hour-long staged berating, in which players were told they had personally disappointed Kim Jong-Un (then still heir apparent to Kim Jong-Il). Players then had to individually criticize the team's manager, who may have then been sent to a labor camp. Other athletes who have disappointed the Dear Leader are rumored to be sent directly to camps upon their return without the public fanfare.

Iraq: It's hard to think of a worse welcome home than a meeting with Uday Hussein, but that's what faced athletes returning to Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Saddam appointed his sadistic son to the position of Iraqi National Olympic Committee President, and from that office Uday had carte blanche to torture athletes that did not measure up to his expectations. The Olympic Committee building in Baghdad was as much a medieval prison as anything else, with dungeons replete with iron maidens and other torture devices. It's no wonder why the Iraqi flagbearer in the 1996 Atlanta games fled the athletes' village and defected to the United States.

Colombia: Sometimes, it's not the government, but the fans that are the greatest hazard. After accidentally scoring on his own goal in a preliminary round of the 1994 World Cup, Colombian soccer phenom Andrés Escobar was gunned down by Humberto Munoz, who was involved in the Colombian drug trade and a significant betting loss on the game.


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Gold rush as Olympians touch down in NZ

Golden boy Mahe Drysdale says seeing such a huge crowd when he touched down at Auckland Airport today "makes it all worthwhile".

Kiwi athletes, cyclists and swimmers flew in at 9am today followed by the rowing team, sailing team, and the Black Sticks touching down just before 11am.

Single skulls gold medallist Drysdale said he was overwhelmed by the welcome he received at the airport.

"We worked so hard, but this is why we do it - for everyone else, and obviously I had my moment last week and it's nice to be able to share it," he told ONE News.

Drysdale said over the past 10 days the excitement started to "wane a little bit".

"But coming back here it's taken it back up to the top."

He said he would be "celebrating hard over the next 10 days", particularly at the official homecoming event for the Kiwi team at South Hagley Park in Christchurch next week.

Double sculler Nathan Cohen, who along with Joseph Sullivan won New Zealand's first gold medal of the London Olympics, said he "never expected" to see so much support from Kiwis.

"It really brings it home and makes you so proud to be a New Zealander," he told ONE News.

"Thanks to everyone out there in New Zealand."

Gold medal winning rower Hamish Bond showed off his gold medal as he was greeted by fans.


"It's insane we knew there was some appreciation of our efforts back home but to actually to come through the gates and see the amount of people, hear the crowds, the camera flashes, it's blown us away," Bond said.

Bond said it was "a buzz" to watch other Kiwi Olympians win medals while in London.


BMX silver-medallist Sarah Walker said the scene at the airport was "unbelievable".

"I kind of expected a couple of people to turn up but this is amazing," she told ONE News.

"It has completely blown me away there are so many people here from what I've seen. It's incredible support for us Olympians."

Walker said the trip had been a "whirlwind" and she planned to relax over the next few days.

Track cyclist Simon van Velthooven also landed at Auckland Airport this morning and told ONE News he was proud to share his success with New Zealand.

"It is so nice coming to New Zealand and getting this reception," he said.

The Palmerston North rider had to endure an excruciating wait before officials finally awarded him a bronze medal in the keirin cycling final at the London Olympic velodrome.

"It's what any sportsman ever wants to do - bring home the bacon for New Zealand, and at the Olympic Games for a 23-year-old hopefully it's the start of something more."

Proud grandmother

Kiwi Olympian Aaron Gate said seeing the crowd helped his medal win "sink in".

"It's a pretty awesome day," he said.

His grandmother Connie earlier told TV ONE's Breakfast she would "probably bawl" when she saw him.

Connie said she was "jumping up and down" when Gate, Sam Bewley, Marc Ryan and Jesse Sergent managed to hold off their rivals and collect a bronze medal for team New Zealand on August 4.

"To actually see him there with all that crowd it blows you away," she said.

It was New Zealand's best Olympics since 1988, with the team winning 13 medals, including six gold.

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Official athlete's welcome back parade in Sydney today (couldn't make it - I have to knuckle back down to work). They're also going to have similar parades later this week in the bother state capitals:

Sydney first to welcome home Olympians


Australia's Olympic athletes have been given a hero's reception at their welcome home parade through the streets of central Sydney.

NSW Governor Marie Bashir addressed the athletes before they set off from Circular Quay at noon.

'We all know it's the sport, not the outcome, but the outcome has been superb,' Professor Bashir said.

'There's no doubt that you're serving as very powerful role models for young people.

'Countless young Australians will be striving to aspire to your ranks.'

Professor Bashir was presented with the signatures of all the athletes by flag bearers Lauren Jackson and Malcolm Page.

Huge crowds lined the streets to cheer on the athletes.

It's the first of a series of parades for the Australian team which will be held around the country.

Silver and bronze medallist, swimmer James Magnussen, said despite not winning gold, it was good to get out there to thank his fans for their support.

'While the media might have given me a bit of a hammering it's important to know the people that matter are still behind me,' he said.

It's the third Olympic parade for gold medal-winning track cyclist Anna Meares.

'This is always a fun part of being an Olympian, coming home,' Meares told AAP.

'The kids are just screaming, most of them want autographs and photos and (to say) congratulations.'

The athletes mingled with excited crowds along George Street, accompanied by marching bands and surrounded by green and gold balloons.

Spectator Kerrie Stevenson travelled to the city from the eastern suburbs to cheer the Olympians home.

'The media was very harsh on the athletes,' Ms Stevenson told AAP.

'Every single person that got to the Olympics did their best.

'As far as I'm concerned even getting to the Olympics is amazing.

'I think they should be an inspiration to every single Australian.' .

Sky News

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