The blood, sweat and tears behind Team GB's fantastic haul of 65 medals at the Olympics will long remain in the country's collective memory. And now the athletes who led the nation to glory have been given a heroes' welcome as they return home. Towns across the country have turned into a sea of red, blue and white to celebrate London 2012's stars.
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Ben Ainslie – who, is the UK's most decorated Olympic sailor – was lauded as he returned to his local yacht club. Champagne flowed as crowds strained to see the man who conquered the waters of Weymouth Bay. Ben shared his gold medal around with fans, including 12-year-old George Matcham. "It's important we build on this and give all these youngsters a chance to enjoy the same thing," Ben said."It's down to this club and others around the country which give us such great support for the sport."
Giant street parties have also already taken place in Leeds, Yorkshire. Much has been made of the fact that if the county had competed independently of the UK, it would have finished 12th on the medal-winners' table. 5,000-strong crowds were waiting to welcome their heroes, including Triathlon stars Alistair and Jonny Brownlee, pictured below, cyclist Lizzie Armitstead and boxer Nicola Adams. Confetti and streamers rained down, with triathlete Alistair saying the experience was "absolutely amazing".
And more parties are expected. Britain's poster girl Jessica Ennis is warming up for her own show on Friday. Organisers in Sheffield have promised to turn the city centre into a "sea of gold" for the girl Prince William affectionately calls "Jess". The glory of superstar diver Tom Daley will also be relived in his native Plymouth, with council leaders hinting at a victory tour in an open top bus.Meanwhile, it's been announced that the official victory parade for Scotland's Olympians will be held in Glasgow on Friday September 14.