Team GB leave Rio after 'best ever' Olympic Games

Great Britain's record-breaking Olympics in Rio has been hailed as "the best sporting achievement" in the country's history by chef de mission Mark England. "So, yeah, I think it is the time and the place and the timing means that it is one of the best Olympics - the best sporting events we probably ever had".

"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.

They all competed for Team GB at either the Youth Olympic Games or European Youth Olympic Festival before quickly graduating to the biggest show in sport.

Boxer Nicola Adams, gymnast Max Whitlock, canoeist Joe Clarke and diver Tom Daley were among those on board the long-haul British Airways flight, as were the gold-winning women's hockey team.

The Barcelona Games in 1992 was an unqualified success for an emerging Spanish nation that was still coming out of the shadows of four decades of Franco rule.

Birmingham's hockey star Lily Owsley, 21, was among those enjoying the celebrations as a specially-named British Airways jet carried Team GB back from Brazil.

Among the athletes to have already arrived in the United Kingdom are golf's gold medal victor Justin Rose, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Mark Cavendish, who claimed heptathlon and omnium cycling silver respectively, the men's rugby sevens silver medallists, and long jump bronze victor Greg Rutherford.

The plane's pilot Steve Hawkins said: "I flew one of our prime ministers around on a VIP trip and I've also been involved a couple of other high profile flights".

But since winning the bid to host the London Games, and thanks to a national lottery that helps funding Olympic sports programs, Britain has now eclipsed Russian Federation and Germany as the top sports power in Europe.

Meanwhile Whitehall sources indicated that most of the stars who have kept millions glued to their screens over the past few weeks will be recognised in the New Year's Honours.

"It is going to be great to get back to the people who have given so much to me - it is quite emotional really", the swimmer added.

They are expected to include runner Mo Farah, Whitlock, who secured Britain's first and second-ever golds in gymnastics, and cyclist Laura Trott, whose efforts were singled out for praise by Mrs May.

But the victorious team, which won the third-most overall medals in the Olympic Games, easily managed to find the humor in the situation.

He said you could not hide or doubt your own ability at an Olympics and "you've got to attack and that's what we did". After the flame has been extinguished in Rio, what do the Brazilians have to look forward to?

So, will we be seeing many more sirs and dames very soon?

We won't know how Brazilian athletes will respond until at least four years later in Tokyo, and beyond.

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