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  • Northside West

Emma’s a golden girl

Thursday, 4th April, 2019 8:00am
Emma’s a golden girl

Emma Johnstone, from Finglas, in full flight during the 27-13 Ireland victory in the Ladies Basketball Final at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Ricardo Guglielminotti/Special Olympics Ireland

Emma’s a golden girl

Emma Johnstone, from Finglas, in full flight during the 27-13 Ireland victory in the Ladies Basketball Final at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Ricardo Guglielminotti/Special Olympics Ireland

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Orla Dwyer

FINGLAS athlete Emma Johnstone is celebrating after netting a gold medal with the Special Olympics ladies’ basketball team at the recent World Games in Abu Dhabi. 

Emma (22) was one of the 91 Irish athletes at the games and the only player from the Leinster region on the ladies’ team that beat India by 27-15 in the final.

Emma was part of a hugely successful Team Ireland that arrived home weighed down by 86 medals between them - 30 gold, 29 silver and 27 bronze. 

Emma told Northside People that she was delighted with the win, but it certainly took a bit of getting used to. 

“It was a shock at first but then as it sunk in a few days later I was like, okay, I can’t believe we’re bringing home gold,” she said. 

The local athlete trains in Cabra on Saturdays and has been playing basketball in the area for around seven years.

It was her first time competing in the Special Olympics and she has no plans to stop anytime soon. 

“The experience was absolutely brilliant,” said Emma. 

“All the Ireland supporters that came over to support us and the people watching us from Ireland was just brilliant.

“It was just a brilliant experience and I would love to do it again in a couple of years.”

Seven people on the basketball team were from Northern Ireland and two were from Co Westmeath. Emma was the only player from the Eastern region, let alone the Northside of Dublin. Although the players were from all around Ireland, it didn’t take long for people to gel. 

Emma’s mother, Jeananne, supported her daughter every step of the way and attended the Special Olympics along with her husband. 

“They were super proud, my poor Mam was crying after our final game,” said Emma. “It was very emotional.”

Jeananne said she was very proud of her daughter’s win at the Special Olympics. 

 “I just couldn’t believe it, it was such a great achievement,” she said. 

“To get picked to represent Ireland is just amazing… I’m just so proud to be her mother.” 

Team Ireland won medals in all 12 sports including athletics, kayaking and basketball. The winners returned to Dublin Airport on March 22 to a rapturous welcome from friends, family and supporters from across the country. 

CEO of Special Olympics Ireland Matt English spoke highly of the Ireland team at the athletes’ homecoming. 

“The medals, ribbons and personal bests they achieved were beyond all expectations but it was their energy, passion and pride that captured people’s hearts,” English said. 

“Special Olympics is about more than just medals; these Games were a life-changing experience for our athletes and for everyone involved.”

Around 7,000 athletes took part in the World Games in Abu Dhabi, which ran from March 14-21. 

The games take place every two years alternating between summer and winter. 

A Special Olympics collection day will be held on April 5 to raise money for the Ireland team.

There are over 9,100 registered athletes participating in 15 sports in 317 clubs across the country. 

Emma is now setting her sights on the 2021 Winter Special Olympics in Sweden where she is considering competing in floorball, an indoor floor hockey game. 

“My favourite moment from the Olympics was probably going to the opening ceremony and getting to chat to other athletes and coaches,” she said.

Emma with Matt English, CEO Special Olympics Ireland, at Dublin Airport before the games.

Read the digital editions of the Dublin People Northside East, Northside West & Southside here