EMMA McGilloway is not your average 13-year old.
Michael Wilson reports
Most young teenagers are busy celebrating the onset of the festive season and the prospect of presents. Emma is busy celebrating becoming Northern Ireland’s first ever entrant into the World Kickboxing Council’s Hall of Fame after chalking up her FIFTH World title in four years and her third in succession.
Not bad for the unassuming St. Cecilia’s College student who took up the sport aged seven after watching her brothers train at the local Phoenix club.
“I’m delighted to get into the Hall of Fame, it’s a great achievement,” admitted Emma who only turned 13 in October.
“I started kickboxing when I was quite young but I never thought this would happen, definitely not. It shows that if you put in enough hard training it will pay off. I train four or five days a week, two nights at the Gasyard and two nights in Limavady. It does takes a lot of time and dedication but I enjoy it.”
Entry into the prestigious Hall of Fame is restricted to fighters who have completed a hat-trick of World title victories in successive years.
The modest Lisfannon Park fighter’s latest triumph in the Minus 35kgs Semi-Contact category came at the beginning of the month in Cadiz, Spain where she was among 1,100 competitors. As part of the Northern Ireland squad which brought home one gold, five silver, six bronze and one team bronze medal from the Championships, Emma also won silver in the Light-Contact section.
“Some people that I fought in Spain were extremely tough opponents. A couple were very tall which gave them a longer reach and meant I had to try and get in quickly, land scores and get out again. The final was tough enough but thankfully I got through it to win the gold.”
The gold medal capped another fantastic year for the young kickboxer in which she collected every major honour in Ireland including the Irish National semi-contact title, the Irish National light-contact title, the WKC Northern Ireland semi-contact title, the WKC Northern Ireland light contact title, the WKA Northern Ireland semi-contact title, the WKA Northern Ireland light contact title, the Mugendo Association of Ireland title and several others.
It is a list of achievements Emma claims would not be possible without the support of her coaches and everyone at St. Cecilia’s College.
“Everyone at St. Cecilia’s has been very helpful toward me, they have been great. Mrs. Gormley congratulated me and said ‘well done’ when she found out I’d won. Sometimes I think my friends are a bit embarrassed when people are saying to me about the kickboxing but it is all good fun.
“I would also like to pay tribute to my coaches, Willie Lowry and all at Titans kickboxing, and Shane and Joe at Phoenix Eadain Mhoir. They are all very patient and have taught me a lot, as has Naiem Qureshi and everyone at WKC.
“Derry District Sports Council also deserve credit for the support they have given me.”
Since winning her first title, the WKA version of the World Championship in 2008 in America, Emma has managed to travel quite a bit and she has no doubts which destination was her favourite. Nor is she in any doubt about where she wants her career to go from here.
“I won my first World title in Disneyland which was brilliant. It is nice to travel and I’ve seen lovely places
“I want to just keep fighting, training hard and see where that takes me. You just have to try and improve. Next year is Montreal and it will be very tough but I will be looking forward to it.”