ATHENS, GA - Welcome home and congratulations -- that was the message from the University of Georgia to its 37 athletes and coaches who just returned from the 2016 Summer Olympics.
A reception open to the public was held Wednesday night.
The faces we saw on our television screens, now sititng in the flesh -- Shaking hands, signing autographs, and sharing their hardware.
"We are all Olympic fanatics here and the boys loved watching the Olympics, so they were so excited to see your Georgia Bulldogs," said Natalie Findley.
A record number of Olympic athletes and coaches from UGA were in Rio for the games -- 37. Combined, they won 10 medals, five of them gold.
Swimmer Gunnar Bentz set a new record as the school’s first Olympic gold winner. He was also caught up in the Ryan Lochte lying scandal, something he clearly wants to move past.
"It's great to be back at school and you know I released my statement online and if you want any information you can check that out. Thank you," Bentz said.
For these fans, that incident does not take away from his accomplishments in the pool or the successes of the other UGA Olympians.
And While many adults were lined up getting autographs you couldn’t help but notice the kids…wide eyed, smiling and thrilled to get this close to their hometown heroes.
"I'm a really big fan of Gymnastics and Georgia so I just begged her to come out here so we could come meet them and get autographs," said Joshua Williams. "It feels cool being able to see them and get their autographs."
As if this crowd isn’t a thank you enough each athlete and coach will receive this engraved piece of crystal that says thank you for your outstanding achievement.