SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – Athletes competing in the World Special Olympics are now returning home, that includes three of them from Utah. Friday they returned to a royal welcome.
Chase Lodder couldn't hold the emotion back. A cheering crowd of family and friends surprised him at the Salt Lake Airport.
"I didn't know about it, it's pretty awesome," said Chase Lodder, Special Olympics athlete.
Lodder is one of three Utah athletes including Shelley Mooney, and Jason Greenhalgh who just got back from the 2013 World Special Olympics in South Korea.
"What was it like competing in the Olympics?” Reporter Brian Carlson asked.
“Oh man it's amazing," said Lodder.
"The food was better than I thought," said Jason Greenhalgh, Special Olympics athlete.
"It’s exciting to be home," said Shelley Mooney, Special Olympics athlete.
Roughly 3,000 athletes from 166 countries competed. Mooney won bronze in snowshoeing.
"It took a lot of hard work and dedication to do it," said Mooney.
Lodder won three silvers in snowboarding for Slalom, Giant Slalom and Super-G. Amateur video from his family shows the moment Lodder accepted one of those medals at the podium.
Utah's Special Olympics CEO said all the athletes represented Utah and the United States with honor.
"A big part of our world movement and world games is really to allow our athletes the opportunity to show what people with disabilities can do, not what they can't do," said Amy Hansen, Special Olympics Utah CEO.
Now that the games are over, their families are glad they're finally home.
"We missed him a lot, it was hard," said Marie Greenhalgh, mother of athlete.
"It’s great to have her back," said Bob Mooney, father of athlete.
"I'm thrilled to have him back home," said Annette Lodder, mother of athlete.
As you can imagine, the athletes are spending some quality time together with their families. Most of them said the only they want to do go home and relax.
The next time you might see these athletes compete could be as early as March 9th in the United States - Area games.
Follow Brian Carlson on Twitter: @tv_briancarlson