Fanfare as Athletes Return Home from Greece with Honors
With signs and balloons in hand, families and friends patiently waited in Phoenix Sky Harbor’s Terminal 4 on July 6 to welcome home five Arizona athletes from the Special Olympics World Games in Athens, Greece.
As the “We’re So Proud of You,” “Way to Go,” and “Welcome Back” signs were waved, family and friends also applauded loudly and yelled “Welcome Home Team Arizona.” And, as the athletes arrived in the concourse area, emotions become all the more apparent as the athletes widely grinned and tears of joy were shed from family, friends and even the athletes themselves. The athletes were greeted with flashing cameras and warm embraces from loved ones. Even KNIX 102.5’s Barrel Boy was on-site welcoming home and congratulating the athletes.
The five Arizona athletes, Paulette Prettyman, Alex Hayes, Adam Snodgrass, Matt Dull and Itzel Apodaca, spent some time with family and friends showing off their medals, posing for pictures and signing autographs. Each of the athletes spent three weeks in Greece as part of the 2011 Special Olympics World Games. This event featured more than 7,500 athletes from 185 countries competing in 21 Olympic-type sporting events. In addition to going for the gold, athletes were also given the opportunity to meet other athletes to build friendships. And, the athletes also had the chance to see some of the spectacular and world-renown sites in the first home to the Olympics such as the Acropolis and the sparkling blue waters of the Aegean Sea.
Overall, the athletes did well bringing home a variety of medals making their families, friends, the state and their country proud.
- Paulette Prettyman dazzled in Bocce and won gold in the Singles event, silver in the Doubles event, and 5th in the Team Event.
- Alex Hayes, who competes in Aquatics, received silver in both the 100m Individual Medley and the 200 m Breaststroke and brought home 4th place in the 200m Freestyle.
- Tennis competitor Adam Snodgrass was awarded silver in the Singles division and 4th in the Mixed Doubles competition.
- Matt Dull competed in the Equestrian events taking home bronze in both the Dressage and Walking Trail events and 4th in the English Equitation event.
- And, Itzel Apodaca competed in the Athletics competition receiving a bronze medal in the 4x100m Relay, 4th place in the 200m Run and 6th place in the Long Jump.
“It was great to be there,” said Hayes. “The food and people were great. I was just really happy to be able to go to these World Games and to see Greece. It is wonderful to be able to come together, have fun and see the World.”
The athletes spent months training and preparing for the event. They have returned home not only with medals and ribbons, but with memories that will last a lifetime. Family and friends truly are proud of the achievements of each of these athletes.
Patricia Barney, Director of Marketing and Public Awareness for Special Olympics Arizona, said that the gathering at Phoenix Sky Harbor is an important part of the Special Olympics program to not only to welcome home the athletes but to show them how important they are.
Congratulations to all of the athletes for your hard work, dedication and accomplishments. To find out more about the Special Olympics Arizona program, click here. US Airways served as the official airline sponsor for Special Olympics Arizona.
To see additional pictures from the Welcome Home Gathering at Phoenix Sky Harbor, visit our Facebook page.
First posted: 7/6/2011