It was a priceless display of gold, silver and bronze, perhaps rivalled only by the Crown Jewels, as Britain's Olympians and Paralympians enjoyed a royal audience at Buckingham Palace.
Four years on and with a bit more bling, Team GB returned to Trafalgar Square and celebrated their success under the gaze of Admiral Nelson, another who knew quite a bit about victory.
And a few hours later they swapped tracksuits for smart suits, as The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh hosted a celebratory evening alongside the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, the Duke of York and the Princess Royal.
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Over 200 Rio stars joined guests, including Prime Minister Theresa May and British Olympic Association chairman Lord Coe, for the event, which concluded two days of celebrations, starting with a Heroes’ Parade in Manchester on Monday.
The Queen spent time speaking with members of the team and was spotted deep in conversation with show jumper Nick Skelton, who won individual show jumping gold aged 58 at his seventh Games.
“She's very knowledgeable about all equestrian sports and she can tell me a thing or two,” he said.
"The Queen was asking about Big Star and we were talking about her horse Dartmouth, who ran on Sunday in Canada.
"It makes you so proud to be British because only Britain would do all of this for its medal winners."
Nicola Adams, who defended her boxing flyweight title in Rio, also admitted Rio saw her deliver on a high-profile promise, made on her last visit to the Palace in 2013.
“After I got my MBE the Queen told me to win again in Rio, so it will be nice to show her the medal and say ‘I did it’,” she said.
“It’s been an amazing two days and I can’t believe the support we are getting. It shows how much this nation loves it’s sport and getting behind this team.”
After thousands lined the streets in Manchester, a crowd of 6,000 gathered under the gaze of London’s most famous landmarks.
There was pomp and circumstance with music from the Grenadier and Coldstream Guards and plenty of talk of Rule Britannia, following a storied summer which saw Team GB become the first nation to increase its medal haul following its host event as they collected 67 medals - two more than their tally at London 2012.
Adam Peaty, who started the gold rush with his victory in the men's 100 metres breaststroke, said: “We have a strong and hungry team who can inspire millions of kids around the world and that's what it's all about for us.
"Hopefully you can all go on and take some of that gold into your lives and that's exactly why us Olympians and Paralympians do it."
Members of Great Britain’s women’s hockey team got one of the biggest cheers, with their penalty shoot-out win over Holland remembered as one of the highlights of the Games.
And Georgie Twigg admitted she was looking forward to showing her medal to the Duchess of Cambridge, a former hockey player and keen fan of the team.
“She is a huge supporter of ours and it’s a privilege to be able to speak with her about it and share the moment again,” she said.
But it was Prince Harry who had goalkeeper Maddie Hinch in stitches with an impression of her gold winning goal-saving skills.
"Prince Harry described me as a crab and was impersonating me,” she said. "He's big on the banter. He'd definitely fit into our team and in the locker room.”