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Gold rush as Olympians touch down in NZ

Published: 5:57AM Wednesday August 15, 2012 Source: ONE News

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.

Give your messages of support for NZ's Olympians below.

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  • RichardM73 said on 2012-08-15 @ 13:59 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Welcome home to al our medal winners. You have all done us proud. And lets not forget those who got through to finals in their sports, proud of you.

  • Onekawakgtn said on 2012-08-14 @ 13:26 NZDT: Report abusive post

    The children at Onekawa Kindergarten would like to send the following messages to you all "We liked watching you", "You won medals", "You're all awesome", "We watched you on tv", 'I liked the running", "I liked the swimming", "The gold medals are really really great", "You practiced hard to win the medals", "We are proud of you all", "Valerie you are awesome", "I'm happy", "You are great", "I liked the shot put".

  • ZORBA said on 2012-08-13 @ 06:26 NZDT: Report abusive post

    CONGRATULATIONS to our latest winners of medals. What a fantastic achievement, and to all those who didn't win medals, we are so proud that you tried your very best and that is all we expected. You have all done NZ a great service and we will always be very proud of each and every one of you. Follow your dream and never give up.

  • kiwinz said on 2012-08-12 @ 00:55 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Kia Kaha. Congratulation to all our medal winners. Lisa Carrington that was some race. You look awesome out there, beautiful smile, the golden girl from KIWI LAND. We were all watching the race and my darling, everyone just screamed out GO KIWI. What a magic moment. We will never forget this super race. Arohanui Val, be strong .We love you from all Kiwis, Chiefs, Waikato Magic,All Blacks. We are such proud KIWIS. Love You all. God Bless

  • ZORBA said on 2012-08-08 @ 07:11 NZDT: Report abusive post

    CONGRATULATIONS to our latest winners. We are all so proud of you, and for those who did not win we are proud of you too for trying your hardest. And to Valerie Adams, be proud of your wonderful success - the whole of NZ is so proud of you.