Maritime Olympians return to hero's welcome
Boxer Custio Clayton of North Preston, N.S. receives a warm welcome from friends and family as he arrives at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport in Aug. 2012.
Published Monday, August 13, 2012 7:20PM ADT
Last Updated Monday, August 13, 2012 7:41PM ADT
A large crowd of family and friends offered up an Olympic-sized welcome at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport today as the heroes of the London Games arrived back home.
The crowd erupted at the first glimpse of Maritime Olympic athletes at arrivals. Glen Haven sailor Danielle Dube and North Preston boxer Custio Clayton were the first athletes through the gate.
“I gave my all and I showed everybody that I was able to do it and I didn’t get the decision, but I’m happy with the results and with all these people behind me,” Clayton tells CTV News.
Clayton lost in the quarterfinals – the result of a controversial decision that cost him a medal – but he is being praised for his professionalism in how he handled the matter.
“Custio is the true, true athlete,” says his cousin Maizie. “I was very pleased with the way he handled that, you know, not everybody could do that.”
Halifax gymnast Ellie Black was overcome with emotion as she received a warm welcome at the airport.
“Amazing! Oh my God, they’re all crying! It’s making me cry!” she said as the crowd cheered her on.
The 16-year-old gymnast says she is most proud of helping Canada to finish fifth in the team competition, and is taking her disappointing fall in the vault final in stride.
“I think it was a good practice, like a good experience for what it’s like at that level, so just hopefully next time I can use that experience to help me more,” she tells CTV News.
Fellow gymnast Brittany Ellis says she is happy to share the Olympic experience and homecoming with her friend.
“I think being able to see someone on TV going so far in something that we know that she’s worked so hard at all her life, and it really paying off,” says Ellis.
Bridgewater sprinter Jenna Martin, who finished seventh in the 400-metre semifinal, also received a warm welcome and commented on her most memorable Olympic moment today.
“I’d have to say competing in front of 80,000 fans,” says Martin.
“We’re just so proud, I mean we just can’t believe it,” says Martin’s grandmother, Marilyn Falle. “I mean this girl came from a tiny little community…when she was born.”
As family, friends and supporters welcomed the athletes home, some took the time to reflect on their Olympic performances.
“I would have liked to have done a little better and I can think back to a couple of races where I made some mistakes that were costly in the overall results,” says sailor Danielle Dube. “So yeah, kind of a mixed bag of emotions about it, but maybe to help do better next time, if there’s a next time.”
Halifax track athlete Geoff Harris says there will be a next time for him. He finished seventh in the 800-metre semifinal and is already looking ahead to 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“For me it’s always been about Rio and beyond, so to get this on the way and to gain this experience is what it was about,” says Harris. “I wanted to get as much out of it as much as I could so that when I get to Rio, it’s going to be about getting in the final and putting myself on the podium.”
Mark de Jonge will arrive Monday night and paddlers at his home club, Halifax’s Maskwa AquaticClub, were putting the finishing touches on a poster to greet the bronze medalist.
“I know that we have arranged for a limo for Mark to make sure he gets home all the way in style,” says fellow Maskwa paddler Andrew Jessop. “I think he flew first class, so we’re trying to complete his trip in style.”
Jessop is on the national team and has his sights set on Rio de Janeiroin 2016. He says local paddlers like Mark de Jonge and Dartmouth’s Jason McCombs show there is hope for young athletes to break on to the scene and do well at the Olympics.
“It’s two completely different stories that complement each other very well,” says Jessop.
Mark de Jonge is the only Maritimer to bring home an Olympic medal, having won a bronze in the 200-metre kayak sprint.
Overall, Canada finished in 13th place at the 2012 London Games, with a total of 18 medals.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster