More Olympic athletes back on home soil

Runner Andre De Grasse gets hero's welcome

TORONTO — For the second day in a row, Canadian Olympians returned home from the Rio Olympics to excited crowds of loved ones and fans.

Runner Andre De Grasse of Markham, Ont., who won a silver and two bronze medals, was the first to walk through the arrival gate at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.

“It’s incredible out here (with) this crowd. I’m loving it,” said De Grasse. “I’m honoured. It feels so good to be a part of this country.”

His mother, Beverley, joined him almost immediately.

“I’m just looking to go home and take some time off,” De Grasse said, adding that he was looking forward to his mom’s home cooking.

De Grasse was the first Canadian to win three sprint medals at a single Games.

Food and rest were also top of mind for Derek Drouin of Corunna, Ont., who won a gold medal in the high jump.

“I’m not really looking forward to cooking. Probably just order some pizza. It’s my time off so I’m not really watching what I eat too much,” he said.

The 26-year-old added he was hoping to sleep “probably for the next day.”

Toronto’s Melissa Pagnotta, who competed in taekwondo, received an energetic welcome from more than 20 athletes she trains with in the city, some as young as seven years old.

“Who’s the best? Melissa!” they chanted as they saw her.

Sandra Colaire, the mother of hurdler Nikkita Holder of Pickering, Ont., was also at Pearson with Holder’s two-and-a-half-year old son, Kaedence Warner, in her arms.

Colaire said it was hard to see her daughter fall during the 100-metre hurdles semifinals, but added she was still very proud of Holder.

“Her spirits are great,” said Colaire. “The one question she had after the fall was, ‘Mom, are you OK?”‘

Holder scooped Kaedence up when she arrived, and he smiled and giggled as she spoke to the media about the encouragement she got from fans.

“I definitely didn’t expect the love that I got,” Holder said. “Canada’s awesome. I’m glad that I am a Canadian.”

Today’s arriving athletes followed two planeloads of Olympians who arrived home to a hero’s welcome early Tuesday, including star swimmer Penny Oleksiak. The Toronto teenager won four medals at the Rio Games, including Canada’s first gold.

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