“As a young kid the doctors told my parents that I would never read, write or speak clearly,” said Michael Heup. “They also said that I wouldn’t have good enough coordination to be an athlete. Now I’m an athlete and they were wrong.”
Heup, 38, isn’t only an athlete. He’s a Special Olympian.
The Davidsonville native is heading to the Special Olympics USA Games this weekend in Seattle as part of Team Maryland.
“Oh my gosh. It’s going to be crazy over there,” he said. “They’re expecting well over 4,000 Special Olympics athletes.”
Heup, who has Williams Syndrome, will be competing in singles and doubles tennis.
“We have close to 75 Special Olympics Maryland athletes going, along with staff and a bunch of volunteers and family too."
Like his mom Roxanne among others.
Michael qualified for the USA Games by winning gold in the state games two years ago.
He’s not only looking forward to the biggest competition of his life, he can’t wait to meet lots of new people.
“I make a whole lot of friends. When you go out there and say: ‘I’m going to encourage you. I’m going to cheer you on and make sure you do your best’ - that’s what we’re supposed to do as athletes,” he said. “I think it’s going to be exciting.”
“To go out there, be the best I can be and win gold.”
Team Maryland’s send-off party is on Friday. They leave for Seattle on Saturday. The opening ceremonies are on Sunday.