Shikha, Shubham's 'special' homecoming

Madhu Kapparath for ESPN

Shikha Rani is trying her best to get some rest, now that she has arrived home in the village of Deoli in Himachal Pradesh.

The past couple of weeks have been quite hectic for the 24-year-old. Shikha was one of 90 athletes who represented India in the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria. And now that she is back, she has become the center of attention.

"Everyone wants to know how it was in Austria, who all she met there. They keep asking her what snow was like," says her mother, Suman.

Shikha, though, is tired. She has a sore throat because of the cold in Graz, where she competed in figure skating. But she makes an effort to answer. "Accha tha. Maine accha kiya. Sheher dekha, logon se mili." [It was good. I did well. I saw the city and met the people.]

While the team returned with a total of 73 medals -- including 37 gold, 10 silver and 26 bronze, Shikha wasn't so lucky. She finished fourth in the figure skating category. A lack of enough time on the ice skating rink didn't help her chances, but her parents are happy with the effort she put. "Shikha has trained only for three weeks on the ice and many of her competitors were training for the last three years. She did the best she could, and we are glad for it," says Suman.

While Shikha took her loss squarely, her compatriot Shubham Shokeen was apparently quite distraught about finishing fifth in his figure skating competition. "He was weeping for a couple of days in Graz. He was complaining about the refereeing," says his mother, Krishna.

The 14-year-old from Najafgarh, Delhi, however, recovered quickly from that disappointment. "He was very eager to meet everyone he could," says Krishna. And Shubham indeed made it a point to take pictures with nearly everyone he met. While the old city of Graz serves as background to many of his pictures, there is another strong theme. "He has taken pictures with a lot of the foreign athletes, especially the girls!" says Krishna, with a laugh.

But Shubham made it a point to remember his family too. "He bought me a necklace and a pair of earrings for his sister. He didn't win a medal but he wanted to get something for us from Austria," Krishna says.

Shikha too returned with gifts for her family and friends. "She brought a blanket for Sister Vincy at Prem Ashram. She got a couple of T-shirts for her sisters too," says Suman.

But Shikha has kept one thing for herself. It is the blue track suit with "India" written on the back. "She hasn't let anyone come near it," says Suman. Her daughter has made it clear that it is off bounds. When asked about it, Shikha explains. "This is mine," she says.