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Fans welcome home 'inspirational' Team GB

Thaer Al-Shayei
Image caption Thaer and Olympian Joe Cordina are childhood friends

When Team GB's winning athletes touched down at Heathrow they were met by crowds of adoring fans. BBC News met a few of them.

"The sacrifice Joe has put in is unbelievable," said Thaer Al-Shayei as he took pictures of the swelling crowd at Terminal 5.

He was there to collect Welsh boxer Joe Cordina, who was unfortunately eliminated from the lightweight division in Rio at the last 16 stage.

Childhood friends, the pair grew up together in St Mellons, in Cardiff, and even spar together.

"I'm so proud of him; he performed amazing - they all did," said 35-year-old Thaer, who is a boxing trainer and an actor, having appeared in the Welsh comedy series, Stella.

And Thaer's sentiment is one which echoed around the arrivals hall.

A small, dedicated group of fans had gone to the airport just to catch a glimpse of their heroes. Other travellers only grabbed a lucky glimpse between connecting flights.

One person who definitely fits into the former category is father-of-one Ben Brind.

Image caption Ben Brind and his one-year-old son Arthur were there to spot the triumphant women's hockey team

The 38-year-old, from Luton, and his son Arthur were hoping to see the women's hockey team, who won gold after defeating the Dutch in the final.

"They're an inspiration, and their win will boost the sport tremendously," said Ben.

Ben is a hockey enthusiast and has played the game since he was 18. He even met his partner through hockey, while on tour with his team.

"Sport is character building and it can change lives, and that's why we're all here today to recognise the achievements that have been made."

For Ben, other stand-out performances include Andy Murray, Jason Kenny and Laura Trott.

"Murray has definitely won me round, you can't deny he puts his heart into it."

Image caption Lily and Jasmine Pritchard are both members of the Heathrow Gymnastics Club and were on hand to wave flags
Image caption The Kiflom family from Southall, west London, said the diving pool turning green was their most memorable Rio moment
Image caption Wapping Hockey Club members waited the longest to see Team GB's athletes
Image caption Georgie Willis, 18, who was flying out to Philadelphia, said Rio 2016 had inspired her to take up rowing when she starts at Oxford University later in the year
Image caption Trevor and Lynn Bowman said they were as "proud as punch" of Team GB as they stopped by to show their admiration, before heading off to New York to celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary

But for 11-year-old Joseph Tassell, who was at the airport to say goodbye to his dad, Nick, who was flying out to Tokyo, Tom Daley was the big name on his lips.

"I was so disappointed he didn't get through to the final," he said.

Joseph, who saw Daley win bronze at the London 2012 games, is about to start school at Southborough High School in Surbiton, and said he liked the camaraderie of the Olympics.

"I like the friendship of it - people of other countries are coming together to play sport."

Image caption Nick Tassell, who was flying out on business to Tokyo and his son Joseph, 11

The fans' support was also recognised by the athletes who spent time signing autographs and posing for pictures.

Doing the rounds were Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge, who claimed bronze in the men's badminton doubles.

"People are just coming up to me and saying 'well done', it's overwhelming," Marcus told the BBC News website.

"It's just so nice to see, without the fans we wouldn't be here. The support has been incredible."

Image caption Chris Langridge and Marcus Ellis saw off China to win bronze in the badminton

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