One of Chestertown’s own is taking his athletic skills worldwide.
Kayaker Ty Purnell, 22, was selected as a member of the U.S. team in the Special Olympic World Games. A graduate of the Benedictine School, Purnell hails from the Chestertown area. He’ll travel to compete in Athens next June.
“He’s a natural athlete,” Coach Jack Brosius says of Purnell, who won the state gold medal in the 200-meter at the Annual Midsummer Classic.. “As soon as he got in the boat, I gave him ten minutes of instruction, and he just took off.” Purnell is Brosius’s first trainee going to the World Games.
Brosius is a past Olympian himself. After kayaking for ten years, he qualified to compete in the 2-man kayak category in the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. After working in consulting and engineering, Brosius retired to Chestertown in 2003 and started coaching. He trains kayakers, weight-lifters, swimmers, and runners. Brosius also runs a Wounded Warriors program, where he trains disabled Iraq War veterans on outrigger canoes.
“He’s very focused with one person,” said Purnell of Brosius as a coach. Purnell, who was diagnosed with autism at an early age, started kayaking just for fun at the age of 20. After high school, he went to school for photography, and then trained as a mechanic, and now works as a boat mechanic all over Chestertown. “I never thought I would be going to the World Special Olympics,” Purnell said.
“I’m not your typical 22-year-old who goes home and plays video games,” Purnell said with a laugh.