A Langley Special Olympian is bringing home some bling after the World Winter Games wrapped up yesterday in Austria.
Speed skater Matthew Williams, a 24-year-old athlete who grew up in Langley and graduated from Walnut Grove Secondary, earned two silvers and a fourth-place berth in a series of races during the past week.
He earned two second-place wins, one March 20 in the 1,000-metre race with a time of 1:50.821, and another second in the 500M semifinals on March 23 with a time of 55.23.
He also competed and placed fourth in the speed skating 500M race on March 23, with a time of 53.777 seconds recorded in the Graz Ice Hall.
While Williams could not be reached for comment, yet, his fiancee Crystal Daley – who’s on this journey with him – expressed her pride and delight on Facebook.
Overall, she said, he’s been ranked fourth in the world.
“He has got the gold medal to my heart,” Daley said.
Williams has been involved with Special Olympics for 11-years, this was his fourth national Games, previously apearing in athletics, basketball, and speed skating.
He competed in basketball in the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games and is a member of the Special Olympics International board of directors.
He is a former Special Olympics global ambassador, who credits Special Olympics with allowing him to be himself and encouraging him to live a fit, healthy lifestyle.
One of his greatest accomplishments so far has been giving a TED Talk in Vancouver, and being able to have dinner at the White House.
Being a member of the speed skating team going to Austria meant a lot to Williams, as he is “honoured and proud” to represent his country.
When the Langley man is not playing sports or training, he loves to travel, public speak, and spend time with his girlfriend.
His goal at the Austria games was to achieve a personal best in one of my races.
We’re still waiting to find out if he actually accomplished that feat, but Daley posted that “He got silver for his 1000[M] and got a personal best for that race.”
Team Canada shone
One of the world’s largest sporting and humanitarian events to be held in 2017, the World Games in Austria brought together more than 2,600 athletes with intellectual disabilities and 1,100 coaches from as 105 countries.
That included 148 athletes from Canada.
They competed in alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, figure skating, snowshoeing, and, of course, speed skating, apparently with all of the B.C. athletes medalled, collectively earning 11 gold, 10 silver, and five bronze.
With the help of their coaches and supporters in their year-round Special Olympics programs at home, the members of Team Canada were very well prepared to compete and shine on the world stage, said Lois McNary, Special Olympics’ B.C. vice-president of sports.
Their achievements at the World Games mark the culmination of an “exciting” four-year journey, as the B.C. athletes progressed through regional qualifiers in 2014, the 2015 Special Olympics BC Winter Games, and the 2016 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games to earn the opportunity to compete in Austria, McNary explained.
“We are very proud of this province’s members of Special Olympics Team Canada 2017,” she added. “They trained so hard to be able to perform at their best on the world stage, and they showed such inspiring dedication, sportsmanship, and skill.”