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SC champions of 2018 Special Olympics welcomed back

(WACH)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) - The 2018 Special Olympics wrapped up in Seattle, but the champions who put South Carolina on the map were welcomed back by dozens of loved ones Saturday morning.

Family members, friends, spouses and coaches galore were all gathered at Eagle Aviation around 5 p.m. to greet the athletes on their return from competing.

"They have the brightest personality," said Ryan Travis, a paddle-board coach. "And they see the world with a different eye. It amazes me because I can't wake up and see the world as bright as they do."

And paddle-boarding, in particular, was a shining example of the prowess of South Carolina's team. It was first year the sport was featured at a national level and South Carolina took the gold.

South Carolina had been featuring the sport locally for the past four years.

One father, Kenneth Manigo Sr., was welcoming his son back, who also competed in that competition.

"Every Saturday we're on Lake Murray practicing," said Manigo, who joined his son in Washington for four days out of the competition. "Just to see the athletes giving their 100 percent. Whatever sport they're in, they put their heart into it."

Rachel Maxwell, the coach for the paddle-board team in Washington, says the training for that event is actually conducive to some of the physical obstacles the athletes have to overcome.

"They tend to sometime lock the knees and struggle with balancing, core strength," said Maxwell. "Paddle-boarding addresses every one of those, which is incredibly beneficial for them in so many ways. In addition to just having a great time and getting out there and doing their thing for the sport."

Other competitions included bowling, bocce, golf, swimming, tennis and much more. You can find the full results of the competition here.

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