Brant Special Olympians shine
Photo by J.P. Antonacci, Brant News
Brant Special Olympic athletes (back row) Ben Kruis, Jeremy Tomlinson-Willis, Adam Princz,(front row) Kailee Mitchell, Sarah Orgar, Christine Wilson and Myra Moncrieff pose at Lions Park on Wednesday with their medals from the Ontario Summer Games, held in York Region July 11 to 14.
Ten Brant athletes brought home medals and memories from the Special Olympics Ontario 2013 Summer Games, held July 11 to July 14 in York Region.
“The Summer Games were absolutely incredible. Hands down the most inspirational and positive sporting event I have ever attended,” said Brantford police Deputy Chief Geoff Nelson, who attended his first provincial meet as a Special Olympics board member.
“Whether the athlete was the first across the line or the last, the celebration was the same – arms raised in victory, high fives from their fellow athletes and cheers from the crowd.”
The Brant team sent three golfers and 10 track and field athletes to the provincial meet, which is held every four years and brings in hundreds of Special Olympians from across the province.
Coach Jim Kruis from St. George proudly watched his son Ben win the 200-metre race.
“As a coach, having everybody do so well was amazing,” Kruis said.
Athletes compete as individuals, but success is a team effort, said Debbie Brown from Special Olympics.
“We had the best fans there,” Brown said. “It's like a family.”
“My mom and dad were cheering me on – run, run, run!” said athlete Adam Princz.
Princz' mother, Irma, said she teared up watching her son compete in the long jump, shot put and track events.
“It was absolutely great. Unbelievable,” she said. “I wasn't nervous because it didn't matter whether he won or not. He was there.”
The athletes talked about the thrill of competing and meeting their fellow Special Olympians, but were also impressed by the lavish opening and closing ceremonies and a concert featuring Canadian rock band Glass Tiger.
Myra Moncrieff has been a Special Olympian for most of her life. She trains year-round and earned gold in the 1500 and 800-metre races at the Summer Games, as well as a silver medal in shot put.
“I love to meet other athletes,” she said. “(Special Olympics) keeps me active, keeps me busy and not staying at home all day looking at four walls.”
Patti Mitchell said it was “very exciting” to watch her daughter Kailee compete at her first provincial meet.
“It was emotional to watch all the athletes, no matter if they were on our team,” she said. “It was very inspirational – that's the best word to describe it.”