BOUNTIFUL -- Special Olympics Utah athlete Shelley Mooney recently competed in snow shoeing at the international level in PyeongChang, South Korea.
As part of the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games, the 27-year-old competed in the 100 meter, 200 meter and 4x100 meter relay.
She earned a medal in the 100-meter event, finishing third, and placed sixth in the 200-meter run. Her relay team finished fourth.
Amy Hansen, CEO of Special Olympics Utah, said that athletes from 170 countries competed in the Winter Games. Special Olympics World Games alternates between winter and summer games every two years.
Mooney was one of three Utah athletes who competed in South Korea.
"It was fun to work with the coaches from the other states and make other friends," Mooney said. "It was fun being in another country I've never been to before."
Mooney said she started show shoeing about seven years ago.
"It's fun and is a good workout. It keeps me active," she said.
"We want our athletes to be healthy and engaged," said Hansen. "They have to train at least two times a week, (once) with a coach. They have to practice twice a week for eight to 10 weeks before they can compete at the area level."
Hansen said that her organization has more than 500 volunteer coaches in Utah serving more than 2,300 athletes with intellectual disabilities.
Special Olympics Utah offers more than 50 competitions each year.
The organization offers winter games, summer games, fall games, as well as other regional, state, and national competitions.
Participation is free for all athletes and their families.
Hansen said each competition is organized according to the athlete's skill level. Athletes compete against those with similar abilities.
Mooney said she has been competing for about 15 years with Special Olympics Utah, and has experienced many different sports.
Her father and coach, Bob Mooney, said she competes in softball, snow shoeing, and bocce ball.
"She also competes in unified sports such as bowling, volleyball, and golf. She does a lot," he said.
When asked which sport is her favorite, Shelley responded, "Whatever I'm doing at the time."
"She is in better health for sure," Bob Mooney said of his daughter, who struggled in school because of her slower learning abilities.
He said that when Shelley was younger, she had a speech problem, and had to go to a speech therapist to learn how to talk.
"Now, she gets to go to world and national games and meet new athletes from different states and countries. They become friends. She's become really good friends with athletes from Oklahoma and Maryland and places all over. (There is) a lot of fun and camaraderie there."
"Our athletes have been competing with amazing talent," Hansen said.
"It really is impressive to see celebrities, global leaders, and world-class athletes on hand to help create special moments during the events for our athletes, and they are clearly enjoying their experience, too," she said.