Utah Leaves Lasting Impression On Olympic Athletes

May 5, 2021, 9:40 PM | Updated: 11:25 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The journey to the Olympics leads all kinds of athletes right through the Beehive State. Whether its winter or summer, Utah offers Olympic hopefuls a place to compete, or a place to train.

The state always leave a lasting impression.

Three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings may be tied to the beach, but her family ties are strong in Utah.

“My husband went to BYU,” she said. “You have to love me, don’t you?”

When the Association of Volleyball Professionals brought the beach to Salt Lake’s Liberty Park in 2013, Walsh Jennings was there.

“We were all there as a family and it was just incredible. I loved it. It felt like going home. The nature – we played in the park and everyone showed up with all their hearts. So friendly, so kind so welcoming,” she said,

Fellow beach volleyball Olympian April Ross also competed in the Utah tournament.

“It was so gorgeous,” she said.

Ross said she’ll always remember Utah’s spirit.

“The fans in Utah are always on fire,” she said.

For three seasons, soccer player Kelley O’Hara played her heart out for the Utah Royals, representing Salt Lake and the country on the United States Women’s National Team.

“My experience playing there was a great one,” O’Hara said. “It was really cool to be in a city that embraced the team.”

Utah has also played a part getting athletes back to normal in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Triathlete Matt McElroy was thrilled to get back to normal in the state.

“Park City was one of the first places to open the pool,” he said. “I finally got back in the pool after not swimming for about four months, so that was really nice.”

He also took the time to enjoy the trails.

“The (mountain bike) riding up in Utah is world class,” McElroy said.

So, be proud Utah. You’ve left a mark on many athletes who hope to have your support when the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games begin.

“I feel like we’re all cut from the same cloth, you know,” said Walsh Jennings. “With communities like that – people who love sports, who love to be engaged in life and are always looking for the positive – I feel like that’s what Utah (and what) Utahns are made of.”

Not bad praise, coming from one of the world’s best athletes.

KSL-TV have all the action leading up the games – and will have our own local team on the ground in Tokyo.

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Utah Leaves Lasting Impression On Olympic Athletes