Matthew Williams is no stranger to Special Olympics.
Having competed in various sports over the past 10 years, Williams has attended regional, provincial and national competitions.
Two years ago, he attended the Special Olympics World Games in South Korea, but as a Special Olympics Global Messenger.
And now, the 23-year-old from Walnut Grove is off to Los Angeles next week for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games. But this time, he will do so as an athlete as part of Canada’s basketball team.
“I have a few different emotions,” he said.
“I am nervous because it is a new experience.
“And anytime you represent your country it is a great honour.”
Williams was born with epilepsy and suffered seizures as a child. Brain surgery when he was six stopped those.
Always active growing up, Williams stopped playing sports when he was 10 as it was getting too competitive for him to keep up.
He reconnected with sports and was introduced to Special Olympics when he was 13 and has been going non-stop ever since.
And while playing sports again was a great feeling, Williams was also introduced to the Special Olympics speaker program. The course helped him develop his confidence for public speaking.
Special Olympics has presented many opportunities for Williams: he has run with Arnold Schwarzenegger during a torch run, had lunch with Warren Buffett, and last July, met President Barack Obama and spoke at the White House about what Special Olympics have meant to him.
Williams is one of four athletes from Langley attending the games, alongside swimmer Joshua Low, baseball player Karl Anderson, and with fellow basketball player Alastair Singh.
“It has been a big commitment over the last nine, 10 months, but we have been enjoying it,” Williams said about the preparations leading up to the Games.
And while the goal is always to win, Williams said it is also important to represent their country off the floor.
“When you represent your country, you want to make sure you are representing not just yourselves and your team but the entire nation.”