Canada’s Olympic team in Rio begins arriving home
Elated to be home but exhausted after their long journey, members of Canada’s Olympic team stepped through the arrivals area at Toronto’s Pearson airport this morning to celebrate a triumphant return after an impressive 22-medal performance in Rio de Janeiro.
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A large group of friends, family, media and well-wishers packed Terminal 1 to greet the athletes.
Receiving perhaps the biggest welcome was Penny Oleksiak, the 16-year-old Toronto swimmer whose breakout performance at the Games earned her four medals. She walked into the arrival area wearing her gold medal.
“It’s pretty great to be home. It was pretty unreal for me. I didn’t expect it at all,” said Oleksiak of her performance.
Oleksiak said she is grateful for the support Canadians have shown her and other athletes.
“You know Canada has your back,” she said.
Erica Wiebe, a wrestler who won also one of Canada’s four gold medals in Rio, grew up in Stittsville, Ont., outside Ottawa and now lives and trains in Calgary.
“I don’t even believe this is happening,” she told CBC News while clutching her medal. “The last few days have been a whirlwind and to have a welcome like this to Canada, it’s surreal. I’m just excited to share my medal with my community and family and sleep a bit.”
Jessie Fleming, a member of the women’s soccer team that took home bronze, arrived just after 6 a.m. ET and spoke about the experience of representing Canada for the first time.
“Everyone played well and I think we deserve this,” said the London, Ont., native. “It was my first Olympics, the vets were so good about showing us the ropes. It was an incredible first experience. I couldn’t ask for more.”
Also among the first in the arrivals area was Eric Woelfl, who placed 13th in lightweight men’s rowing.
While he didn’t win a medal, Woelfl said he’s grateful for having the “wonderful experience” of representing his country.
“I had the opportunity to represent Canada at the Olympic Games, which is not something you get to do every day. Not everyone can win a gold medal,” said the St. Catharines, Ont., native. “It’s the process of getting there that matter.”
He was among several Olympians — including four-medal winner and closing ceremony flag-bearer Penny Oleksiak — who landed at Pearson, with more athletes scheduled to arrive around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Canada finished the Games with four more medals than they won in London four years ago, good for 10th in the medal standings.