Matthew Williams was aiming for personal bests, but not only did he achieve that goal, he brought home a silver medal as well.
Competing at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria, the 25-year-old from Walnut Grove set a pair of personal bests on the ice, finishing second in the 1000m speed skating event and fourth in the 500m.
“I think medalling was always a goal (when I first started the sport) but I didn’t think it was going to come this quickly for me,” he admitted.
“I thought it was going to be many years before I would be fortunate enough to have this opportunity.
“It was a dream of mine just to compete for my country; winning a medal for my country was a whole other thing. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would bring home a medal for my country.”
Williams returned to Langley on Saturday night from Austria, which hosted the Games from March 14 to 25.
He was part of 16 athletes, eight coaches and one mission staff from B.C. who represented Canada at the Games.
Altogether, Canada had 107 athletes competing among the 2,600 athletes from 105 countries represented in Austria.
Williams was joined at the Games by his parents, as well as his fiancée, Crystal Daley.
“The experience was phenomenal. It was really neat to have the opportunity to represent my country and be in such a beautiful country like Austria. The city was just so welcoming to all the athletes that were there, and really made sure we were able to experience the culture and get to see what their beautiful country was like,” Williams said.
Williams is no stranger to representing Special Olympics, having gone to previous Games and events as a Global Messenger. But this was his second consecutive World Games he has gone to, after attending the Los Angeles on Canada’s basketball team in 2015.
He will now switch his focus back to the Summer Games, as he hopes to represent Canada on the basketball court once again when Abu Dhabi hosts the 2019 World Games.
In the meantime, Williams — who was born with epilepsy and had brain surgery at age six to stop the accompanying seizures — will work his goal of being an advocate for people with disabilities.
Langley’s Matthew Williams (#29) won silver in the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria.
Langley was also represented at the Games by figure skating coach Elizabeth Roman.