Ireland hero Gary O’Donovan proudly carried the tri colour for his country at Rio closing ceremony
Olympic silver medal hero Gary O'Donovan carried the Irish flag last night as Rio de Janeiro and the world bid farewell to the first Olympic Games in South America.
Thousands of fans braved strong winds and sporadic rains to watch the closing ceremony in the iconic Maracana Stadium, a finale meant to be both one last bash and to take care of some business - namely to signal the transition to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan.
The ceremony opened with original footage of Alberto Santos Dumont, the man that Brazilians recognize as the inventor of the airplane. Brazilians also believe he is the first to ever wear a wristwatch, an invention made by a friend so he could see the time in flight. The theme of the show was "Brazilians can do with their bare hands", a nod to the emerging economy of the world's fifth largest nation.
Meanwhile, our Olympic silver medalists - Annalise Murphy and Paul and Gary O'Donovan - will receive the star treatment when they return to Ireland.
All the athletes who represented Ireland in Rio are sure of richly deserved warm welcomes, but the medal winners are certain to receive a hero's welcome.
Rowing stars Paul and Gary O'Donovan will get a rapturous reception in Skibbereen, Co Cork, next Monday.
Murphy will be greeted with a dinghy flotilla in Dún Laoghaire and a public reception in the borough's People's Park at 6pm on Thursday. Annalise, speaking on RTÉ Radio One's 'Second Captain's Sunday' programme, said: "I still can't really believe it.
"It's all happened then the day after. Oh my God, I've actually won a silver medal, I can't believe it. I was really tired after racing and then celebrating with my family - then, after, I just needed to sleep all day. I just need to have some rest now. The competition went on over nine days.
"But now I'm able to look at it and see what I've achieved, and can look forward to what I can do now. It might never come around again for me to be able to experience winning an Olympic medal."