Chula Vista, CA (KGTV) — Over 5,000 athletes from across the United States competed in last month's Special Olympics U.S.A. Games. One of those athletes, Mark Uyeda of Chula Vista, competed in three swimming events. Mark happens to be quite the swimmer as he has a wall full of medals on his bedroom wall to prove it.
"What makes me such a good swimmer is a lot of practice and a lot of working out."
Diagnosed with autism at 5-years-old, Mark has taken his love for swimming to the highest level for athletes with intellectual disabilities. He became involved with Special Olympics 17 years ago.
"What I like most about swimming is I like to stay cool when it's really hot."
Mark's mom Martha says Special Olympics has changed her son's life.
"Big changes," says Martha. "He used to be very quiet and not being able to socialize and say hi. Now he actually makes small talk and small conversation."
Mark just recently competed in the Special Olympics U.S.A. Games in Orlando, Florida. There were over 5,000 athletes competing in 19 sports, but Mark was the only San Diego athlete competing in the games.
"I was very excited, smiling, and very happy," he said. "Knowing that he was the only one representing San Diego for the Special Olympics U.S.A. Games to me is a big deal."
He represented San Diego quite well, as Mark brought home two medals. He won bronze in the relay and won a gold medal in the 200 freestyle.
"That made me very proud and excited that I won gold for the 200 freestyle," says Mark
"He said, 'mom, I persevered, and I won the race.' That is like a 32-year-old talking, not in the mind of a disabled child," Martha said.