Many of Chicago's hometown Olympic heroes returned to familiar territory Monday.
After filing through London's Heathrow Airport soon after the closing ceremonies, local athletes arrived home the following morning via O'Hare International Airport to applause and attention.
Some wore medals around their necks, others scooped the coveted awards out of their bags at fans' and media requests as they shook hands and posed for photos with airport staff.
"I loved every moment of it, I just soaked it up," said U.S. swim team bronze medalist Troy Dumais at O'Hare on his way back to California. "It was my fourth Olympics, and coming home with a bronze, it's a good experience. I loved it."
"It's a great competition," said Jack Warner, event manager for the U.S. track-and-field team. "The kids did great, the city of London was awesome and the facility was just outstanding. The best track field we've ever been to."
The track-and-field squad took home 29 medals in the 2012 Olympics, outpacing the 23 earned in Beijing. And they're not done yet. Most of the team didn't come home in favor of continuing competition.
"They're going to stay over in Europe and compete three or four times yet to try and earn a little bit more money and try to improve their season performances," Warner said.
The Fierce Five returned to the U.S. for a little bit of rest and a potentially busy performance schedule ahead of their 40-city tour.
"It was truly an amazing feeling just standing up on the podium, hearing your country's national anthem and just reflecting on all the hard work we all put into this," said Jordyn Wieber of DeWitt, Mich. "It was a great feeling."
"The Olympics is always in the back of our minds," said McKayla Maroney.