Team GB stars expected home to hero's welcome as Olympians return from Tokyo

Dylan Fletcher returned home, with other Team GB Olympians expected back on Monday. Credit: PA

The final members of Team GB are set to touchdown in the UK to a hero’s welcome after an impressive all-round performance at Tokyo 2020.

Their 65-medal haul in Japan matched the number earned at Team GB’s home Olympics in London in 2012 and is only two short of the record Rio total in 2016.

There were 22 gold medals won – the fourth-best performance ever by a British team.

Standout performers Tom Daley and Laura Kenny are expected to arrive at Heathrow Airport at around midday, with athletes and sports stars coming home throughout the day.

Strict Covid rules meant athletes were restricted in where they could go during the games and so many competitors have already flown back to the UK.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the nation’s successful Olympians have demonstrated “there is no limit to what we can achieve”, while the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said the athletes have shown “strength, passion and determination.”

It all caps a memorable summer of sport, with the England football team taking the European Championships falling just short against Italy in their first major final since 1966.

Just hours before the closing ceremony in Tokyo, Jason Kenny’s victory in the men’s keirin final made him the most decorated British Olympian in history.

Great Britain’s Jason Kenny celebrates after winning keirin gold Credit: Danny Lawson/PA

The win gave the 33-year-old a seventh Olympic gold medal, moving him one ahead of former British cycling great Sir Chris Hoy.

Kenny, who now has nine Olympic medals, is one half of an Olympic power couple as he is married to cyclist Laura Kenny – Great Britain’s most successful female athlete with five golds.

Some Olympians have already made their way back to emotional scenes.

Canoeist Liam Heath and pole vaulter Holly Bradshaw were among those to touch down at Heathrow Airport on Saturday evening, sporting their medals.

Heath, who won bronze in the K1 200m, was reunited with his three-year-old daughter Sarah, who ran towards him as he arrived at Terminal Five.

Bronze medal winning sprint canoeist sailor Liam Heath with his daughter Sarah Credit: Elmira Tanatarova/PA

Other family members waved a poster that said “Welcome Back Daddy” as the Olympians were greeted with applause.

Heath, 36, from Guildford, said: “She (Sarah) looks so grown up. She grows every day but you don’t really see it when you’re with her 24/7.

“I think it’s the longest time I’ve actually been away from Sarah since she was born – nearing on a month.

“She’s a proper little person and I absolutely adore her. It was absolutely incredible to come back home and see her running towards me.”

Heath is Team GB’s most successful canoeist – with four Olympic medals won so far, including the bronze in Tokyo..

Bronze-medalist Bradshaw, who won Britain's first medal in the pole vault, described Tokyo 2020 as “special” despite a lack of spectators due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Holly Bradshaw in the pole vault final. Credit: PA

She said: “I think every Olympics is different anyway but this has felt very different in that it’s all about the performance and not about going out and exploring or anything like that.

“You just trained and came home and you had to be super on it with hygiene. But I think it’s been a really, really good Games and Japan did a really good job to make it feel special even though there was no one there.”

The 29-year-old, who finished sixth at London 2012 and fifth in Rio, said her bronze medal meant a lot as it was something she had “wanted for so long”.

Meanwhile, sailor Dylan Fletcher was greeted by cheers from a crowd of family members who waved Union flags and held up balloons.

The 33-year-old won a gold medal in the men’s 49er alongside teammate Stuart Bithell.

Watch as Willow Whitlock excitedly greets her dad, gold medal-winning gymnast Max Whitlock, after he arrives back from the Tokyo Olympics

Fletcher’s mother Jane said she had been “shaking” with anticipation ever since his victory.

She said: “We didn’t stop shaking from 5.30 on Tuesday morning all the way through to now.

And I think I’m still shaking now and it’s all going to rev up again.

“I’m so proud for them and of them. They’re phenomenal sailors and phenomenal athletes. Just fantastic.”

Fletcher returns home to busy wedding planning, as he and his fiancée Charlotte are set to get married in 20 days.