The whirlwind that was the London Olympics experience for Canada's athletes may have been capped by a tremendous homecoming on Monday.
For bronze medallist Jasmin Glaesser, it represented a pinnacle of an incredible journey. The 20-yearold Coquitlam cyclist was among the athletes who arrived home to a thunderous applause and an unrehearsed rendition of O Canada at YVR.
It seemed like just another wonderful piece to a meteoric arrival for the Terry Fox alum.
"I didn't expect it, I just thought it would probably be family and some friends at (the airport)," said Glaesser. "It was almost overwhelming to see the crowd, the cameras. It was just great."
As she and silver medallist rower Krista Guloien, BMXer Tory Nyhaug and wrestler Haislan Garcia walked through the customs doors, the beaming faces and cheers from fans young and old added another element to their Olympic dream.
Their sweat and toil - which for over the preceeding three years went mostly unheralded and unreported - was cherished and celebrated by Canadians across the country.
Glaesser recalls how watching the 2008 Beijing Olympics provided a spark to her own personal Games journey.
"I think the first time I really watched track cycling was at Beijing (Olympics), and that kind of started what I'd pursue a year later," she recalled. "It's amazing, those athletes inspired me. Now, maybe we've inspired future Olympians."
For Brittany Rogers, who contributed to a historic fifth-place finish for Canada's artistic gymnastic team, the week began in Portugal, where the 19-year-old is enjoying a welldeserved break.
She told The NOW her Olympics experience was everything and more that she could imagine.
"I am just on cloud nine and feeling so proud of myself and my team," Rogers wrote in an e-mail. "I tried not to go into the Games with any expectations because I wanted it to be my own experience, and to be completely open minded.
"If I were to have expectations I think [the experience] would have excelled every last one."
Each of the athletes had spent a great part of the past year competing and training abroad, giving Monday's homecoming a special meaning. That so many fans from across the Lower Mainland turned out and extended that welcome was an additional embrace to a personal moment.
Guloien has spent the past handful of years training and competing away from her Port Moody home.
Glaesser and her pursuit cycling teammates relocated in Los Angeles for much of the past year, gearing up for London. Nyhaug's road included European and North American stops that kept him away from his Coquitlam base.
Glaesser, for one, is looking forward to the break - but also anticipating the upcoming road cycling season, and more Olympic pursuits.
"It's great to be home - I'm looking forward to spending time with my family and friends... Still, there's too much yet to be done."
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