FERMANAGH can lay claim to a Commonwealth Gold Medallist in the form of 19-year-old Australian swimmer Taylor McKeown.
Taylor, whose grandfather Joe McKeown was born and raised in Enniskillen before emigrating to Australia, won the 200m breaststroke in Glasgow on Saturday evening in a time of 2.22.36.
Taylor and her family hail from Bellmere, on the Sunshine Coast of Australia. Her parents Sholto and Sharon, along with sister Kaylee visited Fermanagh only last week ahead of the championships to visit family before cheering on Taylor to gold over in Scotland. Mother Sharon described the emotions after the race.
“I was so overwhelmed, we all were actually. It was so surreal. I just wanted to give her a big hug and congratulate her, then there were tears. Once she saw Sholto and I crying she started, even her coach came up and hugged us and had a tear.
“We are extremely proud. We’re having a surprise welcome home party for her on Saturday night August 2nd.”
Taylor, dubbed the ‘Bellmere Bullet’ over in Australia was overwhelmed with her victory.
“I was absolutely stoked. I’m so proud of myself for coming this far in one year. Commonwealth champion is just the stepping stone on a journey to bigger and tougher International competition and I’m glad it has given me the confidence to race for the future.”
Taylor harbours Olympic ambitions and will hope to make the squad for the Rio games in 2016. In between she too would like to explore her Irish roots.
“I have always wanted to explore Ireland, I remember choosing to do a project on it in grade 5 and ever since then I have wanted to go there. Hearing stories from my Grandad also makes me want to track down my family history.”
She added: “Thank you to everyone who watched the swimming and supported it’s athletes. We all worked so hard to get here, and I’m happy we put on a good show for you.”
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