KIAMA's Grant Francis has described the recent Special Olympics Asia Pacific Games as an experience he will remember for the rest of his life.
The event, held in Newcastle in early December, featured 22-year-old Francis representing his country in basketball.
He was one of two Kiama residents, in addition to Tahlia Henson, to participate in the games.
"The opening and closing ceremonies were unforgettable, but the thing I will probably remember most is the friends I made during the games," Francis said.
Surprisingly, he admitted he had little interest in basketball while growing up, spending most of his junior sporting career playing junior league with the Kiama Knights.
However, that all changed when Henson's mother, Kellie, decided to get a team together to play in a "special" competition in Sydney.
Francis, who suffers from epilepsy and mild Asperger syndrome, agreed to play in the competition, representing Sydney South against other regions.
The rest is history.
"I really enjoyed the whole experience and look forward to hopefully representing NSW in the national titles in Melbourne later in 2014, where they will be selecting a team for the world titles in Los Angeles in 2015," he said.
He was disappointed with the overall result of the games after his team was beaten by Indonesia in the bronze medal play-off.
"The most disappointing part was that we had beaten them 41-28 in the qualifying rounds, but lost the semi 44-39, so we finished with a ribbon instead of a medal," he said.
The Philippines team won the title over Japanese side Nippon Challenger.