News Release

LDS South Australian Wins Bronze Medal in Special Olympics

Not many people get to compete in an Olympic competition. Less win medals and even fewer win medals at different sports 12 years apart.


Brian Clarke is a 37 year old member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Firle Stake (diocese) in Adelaide. Despite being born with an intellectual disability he has maintained a zest for life and a passion for sport.

He began swimming with Special Olympics Australia at the age of five and won his first medal at 10. He continued swimming and continued winning competitions, mainly in freestyle and backstroke.

In 2006 Brian attended the World Special Olympics in Ireland where he won a gold medal in the 200m freestyle and silver medal in the 4x200m freestyle relay.

He recalls, “I never swam the medals for myself, but I swam the gold for my Auntie Ady and the silver for my grandma,” both of whom died shortly before the Olympics.

Five years ago Brian retired from swimming, stating, “I got to the top and found there was nothing there."

Brian’s mother Christine states that Brian first got into swimming because it was something that did not involve competitions on Sunday, so he was free to attend church regularly. After he stopped swimming he looked for another sport that did not conflict with his Sundays. Golf seemed the perfect choice with practice during the week and competition on Saturdays.

“I just loved the swing,” says Brian.

He gathered some left over clubs and even though he is left handed, began playing right handed. He started practicing every day after work at Bedford Industries where he is mostly involved in gardening.

Not having a driver’s license his mother picks him up from work and drives to one of his two favourite courses where she caddies for him and fills in his score card.

Brian simply states “I got better and better," so much so that he normally gets even par 72 on a full 18 hole course. He has never had a coach and is self-taught.

Every four years in Australia there is a Special Olympics competition. In April 2018 they were held in Adelaide where Brian won a bronze medal in golf. He was the only South Australian in golf and understands he was the only Latter-day Saint in the Special Olympics. He is hopeful of attending the next World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi in 2019.

“I hate golf," explains Christine, but despite her dedication or perhaps because of it, she has found a way to spend time with her son every day.

Brian agrees that “the most important things in my life are my family and golf."

Last year he raised all the money to take himself and his mother to Texas, USA, for a competition by collecting thousands of bottles and cans.

Mum says, “I love my kids and I love to see them enjoy themselves. Winning medals just goes with the territory.”

Both Brian and his mother Christine exemplify how dedication to each other, their faith and sport can make winners of us all.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.