Welcoming back an Olympic medalist after a long flight doesn't get much memorable or honorable than this.

While friends and family of Duanes

burg's Emma White waited to greet her in the terminal, Albany Airport Firefighters seized the opportunity to shower her with affection...literally.

White, the Duanesburg native and Union College grad who took home bronze in team cycling at the Summer Games, had just returned home after a long flight from Japan on Wednesday.

But before she could get off the plane and celebrate with loved ones and friends, her taxiing airplane came to rest and was showered with adoration in a ceremony known as a 'water salute'  by Albany International Airport Firefighters.

A water salute occurs for ceremonial purposes. Usually, it's done to honor a military hero, a retiring airline pilot, or when bringing back the remains of a fallen soldier.

But Doug Myers, the public information officer at Albany International said that he felt it was important to celebrate the return of White with her medal because of just how special the moment was for her and her family. The water salute lasts maybe 40 seconds, while 3,000 gallons of water per minute is pumped from hoses.

"It's up to the Captain's discretion whether or not to do it," he explained, and much like winning a medal, it doesn't happen all that often.

"Sparingly," he said, adding that "maybe twice a year we do this at Albany Airport."

The photo gave me chills.

Photo: Albany Airport Professional Firefighters IAFF Local I-65 Facebook

After White graduated from Duanesburg High School, she stayed locally here in the Capital Region, attending Union College from 2015- 2019.

The 23-year-old White honed in and perfected her skills while she was at college in Schenectady, but her talents were discovered when she was still in grade school.

According to TeamUSA.org, White  "started racing at 9 years old with her brother Curtis White and quickly developed a reputation in the North East as a top road and cyclocross racer. Her results garnered her place on the United States National team as well as the Cyclocrossworld. com-Cannondale squad to race cyclocross."

 

Check out these images from other athletes who share in the joy of competition just like our Emma White

Sometimes images are the best way to honor the figures we've lost. When tragedy swiftly reminds us that sports are far from the most consequential thing in life, we can still look back on an athlete's winning moment that felt larger than life, remaining grateful for their sacrifice on the court and bringing joy to millions.

Read on to explore the full collection of 50 images Stacker compiled showcasing various iconic winning moments in sports history. Covering achievements from a multitude of sports, these images represent stunning personal achievements, team championships, and athletic perseverance.