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Special Olympic champions return to huge crowd of supporters at London International Airport

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It was a welcome home fit for Olympic Champions.

London’s Special Olympians arrived at London International Airport Sunday afternoon, bringing home 10 individual medals, and one team medal.

“Goosebumps, goosebumps,” is the feeling described by Chris Lauzon as he walked into the terminal to see more than 100 family, friends and supporters of the local athletes.

Lauzon is a member of the London Blazers Floor Hockey Team which overcame illness and injury to win the gold medal over Alberta, Saturday afternoon in Calgary,

IN PHOTOS: Special Olympic athletes return home

“These guys have been a team for 15-20 years, and this is the first time they went to Nationals,” said Blazers Head Coach Todd DeSilva. “We had guys out sick, injured and we played shorthanded in the semifinals to get to the final. They played like nobody’s business and the results speak for themselves. I’m so unbelievably proud to coach them and help them achieve their goals.”

It was backup goalie Zack Griffith of St. Thomas, Ont. who stepped in when their starter became ill.

“I stepped up when Jesse got sick,” said Griffith. “I was not expecting to go in because my first game didn’t go as well as I thought but I’m proud of myself and my teammates.”

Zack Griffith of the London Blazers Floor Hockey Team shows off his gold medal from the Canada Special Olympics Winter Games in Calgary Alta. March 3, 2024. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)Speed skater Jackson Tomlinson of Mt. Brydges, Ont. was greeted by his mother and young cousins when he game through the gate.

“I used to be from Milton and when I came home from the 2020 games we didn’t get anything like this,” said Tomlinson who won a gold, silver and bronze on the oval. “I had quite a few nerves going in and the first two days I would say were a disappointment. The last day with three finals I am proud of myself.”

His mother Jennifer was glowing when she spoke of her son’s performance.

“I couldn’t be more proud of him,” said Jennifer. “When he was diagnosed [with Autism] at the age of nine I didn’t know what the future holds. I am so thankful he found Special Olympics. Remember to never judge a book by its cover because disabilities come in all shapes and sizes.”

Skier Ben So won two gold medals and one silver at the Canada Special Olympics Winter Games in Calgary Alta. March 3, 2024. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)Skier Ben So, who CTV News featured prior to the games, is the most decorated Olympian coming home. He won two golds and a silver in slalom on the slopes.

“It was great, thank you,” said So, a man of few words.

He said his fondest memory is a picture of him draped in the Ontario flag.

After 20 years of competing in Special Olympics, Lauzon said his dream finally came true.

“I started in 2004, and now in 2024 I finally did it,” said Lauzon, showing off his gold medal with a giant smile.

London’s other medal winners were speed skaters Cameron Banerjee (one gold, one silver) and Sara Albers (one gold, two silver).

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