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We can think of no one more qualified to represent our area – and our province – at the upcoming World Special Olympics than Kentville’s Philip Brown.
In almost 20 years as a Special Olympic athlete, Philip is quickly closing in on 100 medals in a variety of sports, including speedskating, powerlifting, soccer, softball, floor hockey and even ringette.
He may be Kings County’s most decorated athlete ever, and every one of his medals was won fairly and in the best spirit of Special Olympics competition.
He has represented Nova Scotia at the national Special Olympics seven times, at both the summer and winter competitions, and won numerous medals at that level.
The most impressive thing about Philip has always been his humility. It’s not hard to get him to talk about his accomplishments, but it is sometimes difficult to get him to focus on winning and losing.
“It’s not the shine of the medal that matters,” he said in an interview 10 years ago. “It’s the shine on the faces of the people you meet and the friendships you make.”
Indeed, as good as an athlete as he has been over the years, Philip has been arguably an even better ambassador for the Special Olympics movement as a whole.
His simply-stated eloquence, combined with his almost unprecedented success as an athlete, is no doubt why he was chosen as one of two Special Olympians to represent Canada as a torchbearer at the World competition later this month in Korea.
Moreover, Brown will not be alone on his journey. Kentville Police Chief Mark Mander will also participate in the games as part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run. He will be the only law enforcement officer from Nova Scotia.
To our mind, it’s a real feather in our cap as an area to have not one, but two local citizens taking part in a competition of this level and who can support each other.
Mander is pleased to have been selected, and is thrilled Brown was also chosen. We agree with Mander that of all the Special Olympics athletes they could have chosen for this honour, Brown is arguably the most deserving.
Special Olympic athletes, Mander points out, “show us quite a bit. It’s awe-inspiring.”
Truly, anyone that watches a Special Olympics competition comes away with the feeling that this is competition at its purest – for its own sake, and its own enjoyment, with little, if any, concern for the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.
A naturally humble man, Philip could find it uncomfortable being a ‘poster boy’ for Special Olympics, but he never has. He considers being an ambassador, and a mentor for younger athletes, part of his role as a Special Olympian.
Asked in the 2003 interview what he considered the biggest thrill of his Special Olympics career to that point, he said it was attending the World games in Toronto in 1997, not as an athlete, but as a volunteer.
We’re sure part of Philip feels the trip to Korea will top even that in the thrill department, but another part of him will simply take it in stride.
He is not only an accomplished athlete in his sphere of competition, but an inspiration for all athletes who truly embodies the spirit of Special Olympics – “let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”