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SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — More than 1,000 athletes from across the state will participate in the 2023 Special Olympics Rhode Island State Summer Games this weekend.

Special Olympics gold medalist Brian Johnson will be among them.

This will be his 14th year competing in the State Summer Games. The 31-year-old will also be heading to Germany later this month to represent Special Olympics USA in bocce.

This weekend could be described as a “tune-up” for the Special Olympian as he prepares for his international debut.

12 News was there as Johnson showed off his skills at the Santa Maria Di Prata Society in Cranston. He said bocce is actually pretty challenging.

“It’s not easy and you have to practice,” Johnson explained.

When asked how many medals he’s won over the years, Johnson wasn’t sure.

“Too many to count,” he said. “It’s a lot of medals.”

But even with those dozens of medals, Johnson has his eye on the prize when it comes to competing in Germany.

“I’m going to try and get a gold medal,” he beamed.

Johnson described being a Special Olympian as humbling, adding that he’s made countless friends over the years.

The Opening Ceremony, hosted by 12 News anchor Mike Montecalvo, will take place Friday night. Johnson has been selected to light the torch and lead the parade of athletes.

This will be the first time since 2019 that the State Summer Games will return to a three-day format.

WPRI 12 is a proud sponsor of the Special Olympics Rhode Island State Summer Games.

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