VENICE (WSNN) - A Venice man returns home with several medals after competing in the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games that happened earlier this month in Orlando.

54-year-old Douglass Johnson won two medals in the equestrian category. He won a gold in the trail course, which is an obstacle course event; and he won a bronze in equitation, which is when you ride around rings.

When I asked him how he felt about the gold, Johnson said "Really good." He adds, "Because it’s something that I’ve been working on for quite a while."

"It is fabulous," Johnson's mom Linda Matteson said. "It was a wonderful experience. A once-in-a-lifetime experience."

Johnson is legally blind and has a short-term memory loss.

"He doesn’t have much vision in his left eye, it’s just cloudy," Matteson said. "In the right eye, he has vision. But you have to be very very close and speak to him before he recognizes it’s you."

While Johnson has certain disabilities, this does not stop him from participating in sports.

"I just try to work with it and go with the flow," Johnson said. "He has been competing in Special Olympic games since he was eight years old doing track and field, swimming, and equestrian. Johnson qualified to compete in this national competition by winning gold in his categories during the state games.

"He was part of a lottery pick to go to the USA Games," Matteson said. "He was the one and only athlete in Sarasota County that got picked for the equestrian program."

Johnson trains at Wings of Hope for Therapeutic Riding at Windsong Farms in Venice. Years of training led up to this moment at the USA Games.

"It was a little bit nervous for myself and everyone else that went, but we all did the best we could," Johnson said.

"Unbelievable," Matteson said. "But no, it isn’t unbelievable because he’s a good athlete. And he tries very hard."

Not only is he a good athlete, he’s also a good team player. 

"He’s always encouraging the other athletes to do their best, ‘come on come on,’ cheering them all on," Matteson said.

Johnson says he wouldn’t have been able to do it without his support system. His family and friends are important to him, but so are his mentors at Goodwill Manasota. He works at the Venice location as a full-time employee.

"Try to find someone that’ll be able to mentor you and do something that’ll point you in the right direction," Johnson said.

If you have certain limitations but have a dream you’re set on, Johnson says just go for it. 

"Sign up and then go to the different sports, and so how well you do and how far you get," Johnson said.

There were 64 competitors in the equestrian category from all across the country. And there were 24 athletes from Florida.