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Heroes return home

JUBILATION: (l-r) Blake, Weir and Parchment (Photo Credit: Rudolph Brown)

SEVERAL OF Jamaica's Olympic stars received a special reception at the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) to welcome some of their athletes back to the island yesterday (September 10).

Olympians including 100m and 200m silver medallist and 4x100m relay gold medallist Yohan 'The Beast' Blake, 200m bronze medallist Warren Weir and 110m hurdles bronze medallist Hansle Parchment, to name a few, were among the group.

On stepping off the aircraft that brought them home, the athletes were met by a Jamaica Cadet Force guard of honour on the NMIA tarmac.

The competitors were met outside the terminal building by a throng of supporters and students of several schools.

Blake, who spoke on behalf of the sprinters, was thankful for the gesture.

"On behalf of the athletes that are here and those who are not here like Usain (Bolt), who got in early, I want to say thank you for this and it really means a lot to us coming back to such a warm reception," Blake said. "We are thankful for your interest and warm support because that is what we really need."

Women's 100 metre gold medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce returned to the island over the weekend, while former 100 metre world record holder Asafa Powell returned last month.

CLEAN SWEEP: (l-r) Blake, Bolt and Weir

"We wanted to have this so that we could extend to you a cordial welcome back home," said minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, Natalie Neita-Headley.

"There is going to be one special celebration, which will be on the weekend of the National Heroes Day. This year we are not doing any big floats, or motorcades and parade because we believe that you are coming back and are exhausted. But we also believe that this year, whatever it is that we do, we want to ensure that the promises we make to you, that on the night of the celebration, we can actually put it in your hands," Neita-Headley added.

Jamaica Olympic Association President Mike Fennell, who also shared in the event, expressed a great sense of pride in the country's achievements in London and underlined to the athletes that they had raised the bar for future Olympic teams.

"It has taken a lot of hard work and sacrifice but this country must demonstrate how grateful it is for what our athletes have done yet again. It is not just London, it is not just Beijing, but even before and you have now blazed a new trail, set new standards and set the bar really high and we congratulate you," Fennell said.

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