Kirsty Wynn is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Rio Olympics 2016: Hero's welcome awaits team from Rio

170-strong Olympic contingent will mingle with dedicated fans and specially invited schoolchildren on Auckland’s waterfront.
New Zealand's opening ceremony flagbearers Peter Burling (left) and Blair Tuke won Rio gold in the 49er class. Picture / Photosport
New Zealand's opening ceremony flagbearers Peter Burling (left) and Blair Tuke won Rio gold in the 49er class. Picture / Photosport

New Zealand's record-breaking Olympic heroes will be welcomed back in style on Wednesday.

As the nation basks in our greatest medal haul - which stood at 15 last night - the Weekend Herald can reveal our team will receive the hero's welcome they deserve in four days.

About 170 members of the New Zealand Olympic Team will touch down at Auckland Airport at 4.35am on Wednesday to what is sure to be an emotional and exciting welcome, especially for those athletes who have been away from home for several months preparing for Rio.

Dedicated fans at home who set their alarms at all hours to watch the team compete in Rio will not be put off by another early start.

Among the athletes arriving home are medal-winners from sailing, cycling, rowing, canoe kayak and the women's sevens team.

The team will be bused to The Cloud on the waterfront for the formal ANZ Welcome Home event.

"We are really looking forward to it," New Zealand team Chef de Mission Rob Waddell said.

"It will be a wonderful chance to meet and interact with all the New Zealanders back home who have really got behind the team at this Olympic Games.

"We've been absolutely blown away by all the support."

Waddell said the event would be relaxed and members of the public would have plenty of opportunity to meet the athletes who had worked hard to bring home medals.

The record medal tally includes four gold, eight silver and three bronze medals. New Zealand won five medals yesterday.

Lisa Carrington kicked off the nation's best day with a bronze medal in the K1 500m, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke added to the stash, securing the gold they had already won on points alone, and fellow sailors Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie took out a silver in the women's 470.

Tom Walsh completed a stunning day for New Zealand with a bronze in the shot put.

Waddell said he was proud of all the athletes and saw the ANZ Welcome Home as a chance to thank the New Zealand public for its unfaltering support.

"The format of the morning event is really relaxed so we know our athletes can meet the fans, sign autographs, take selfies and share inspiring stories.

"Rio has seen us win the most medals ever and it will be fantastic for Kiwis to share some of this excitement," Waddell said.

More than 200 school pupils from the Super City have been invited as representatives from each part of Auckland.

Student representatives from Kristin School in the north, Edmund Hillary School in the south, St Heliers Primary in the east, Waitakere in the west and Balmoral School from Central Auckland will attend with parents and teachers.

Athletes will take the stage to talk about their Olympic experience before mingling with the crowd at The Cloud.

Final charge

• New Zealand's record medal tally could grow even more this weekend - with the medal contenders spearheaded by 19-year-old pole vaulter Eliza McCartney (pictured). The teenage sporting sensation will try to soar her way into Kiwi sporting history - securing our first pole vault Olympic medal - when the women's final begins at 11.30am.

• McCartney isn't the only Kiwi Olympian hoping to add to our medal table today. This morning the Black Sticks played Germany in the play-off for third and fourth.

• Nikki Hamblin is also set to line up in the final of the women's 5000m, which will be raced at 12.40pm.

• On Sunday, Nick Willis will be chasing his second Olympic medal in the men's 1500m final, while golfer Lydia Ko's hopes of getting on the medals rostrum will be known after the completion of the final round of the women's stroke play event on Sunday morning.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 05 Dec 2016 08:01:24 Processing Time: 654ms