The summer Olympics are over, and now the mass exodus from London has begun. More than 100,000 travelers flooded Heathrow airport Monday.
The airport even had to build a temporary games terminal with 31 check-in desks, just for the Olympics. Among those athletes who left late Sunday and returned to Tampa Bay were a pair of Olympic sailors from Clearwater.
Siblings Paige and Zach Railey told us they were wiped-out from the long trip back.
They got on a bus minutes after the closing ceremonies wrapped-up in London on Sunday night. They were up all night essentially before they touched-down at TIA.
"Thank you for being here everybody," said a humble Zach Railey to the crowd who'd gathered to greet them at TIA.
It was a hero's welcome, with flags and cheering. The pair is weary from a long journey home.
"Alright! Smile," said Paige Railey with a big smile as she took a picture of the crowd, but they were not so tired they'd lost their sense of humor.
"It was a great time representing my country over there, but there's nothing like coming home," she said.
"There you go! Welcome home," a member in the crowd yelled, as they were both handed rose bouquets.
There was also a hug and a kiss for Zach from girlfriend Heidi Sedlmayr, who told us they'd been apart for a month.
There's a five-hour time difference she said, which also made it tough on the athletes.
"There's a lot of passing out really early and waking up really early," Sedlmayr said. "Go to sleep at 7, wake up at 3 in the morning; it definitely takes a few days of adjustment."
There was a huge contingent from the Clearwater Yacht Club, where Zach and Paige trained as youth sailors, starting at 8-years-old. Folks waved flags and welcome signs, they couldn't have been more proud.
"Crazy, cheering the whole time, it's hard, hard work, they train left and right," he said. "They're great young kids. They really are."
Paige missed Bejing, but was first alternate, so she was hungry for a medal this time. But it didn't happen.
"Having all the support back home was definitely a big motivator for me over there," she said.
"I'm incredibly proud of my sister," said Zach. "It's always been a lifelong dream to go to an Olympic games together."
Zach did have one win in London. He was named captain of the team.
"I got selected by my teammates as captain of the team," he said. "I was very humbled by that, and that was a huge honor for me."
This was Zach's second go at gold. He brought silver back last time.
"I felt like I was a strong medal contender going into this, and unfortunately, the results weren't there," said Zach, who explained they had a plan and they stuck to it.
"Obviously disappointed with the result for sure, but the Olympic experience was absolutely amazing," he said.
"Honestly, I'm disappointed, I'm not happy," said Paige. "But you know, having all the support and seeing everyone cheer me on and being proud, has really made everything a lot better for me. So it's definitely given me the motivation to go back and try harder and make sure I bring that medal back home next time."
"We're going to spend some time with friends and family and obviously all the supporters and everyone who's helped us get there," Zach said.
They are looking forward to some down time with family and friends, but then it's right back to training hard.
After all, they've only got four years to get ready for Rio de Janeiro.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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