ALMONDBURY girl Joanne Kempley is on top of the world.
The 20-year-old is back at home with a clutch of medals from the Downs Syndrome World Swimming Championships in Taiwan.
She also returned from an exciting trip with a handful of personal best times.
And she’s got a boyfriend!
“His name’s Ben and he’s a swimmer like me”, said Joanne.
“He’s also a footballer and lives near York and he, too, did very well as well in the competition.”
It all added up to a wonderful achievement for Joanne, who swims with the Borough of Kirklees Swimming Club and works as an actor with the much-acclaimed Full Body and The Voice theatre company in Huddersfield.
She is also a student at Kirklees College.
It was also a great trip for her mum, Christine, who was there to watch Joanne compete in Taipei, along with her swimming coach Gemma Ripley.
Gemma, who also has a post with the Great Britain squad, said: “Joanne shocked us all by the amazing swimming and commitment to the event.
“We couldn’t have asked for any more from her.”
Joanne’s list of triumphs included gold in the 50m front crawl, silver in the 50m breaststroke and 100m medley relay and bronze in the 100m freestyle medley relay and 50m medley.
She clocked up personal best times in five of her six events.
The event was organised by the Downs Syndrome International Swimming Organisation and 25 different countries were participating, with over 300 athletes and coaches.
The competition was held at the Taipei Song Shan Sports Centre.
Joanne, a former Almondbury High School student, trains five days a week and still swims with the Kirklees Active Leisure Swimming Scheme at the stadium on Saturday afternoons.
She began taking special swimming lessons for young people with learning disabilities run by Kirklees Active Leisure when she was seven.
Now she’s a regular at the Stadium pool.
She represented Great Britain in the European championships in Albufeira, Portugal, in 2008 but this was her first world championships.
“I had a great time and it was a fabulous place to visit,” said Joanne.
She received sponsorship to attend the event from organisations including Almondbury Community Cafe, Huddersfield Pennine Rotary Club and The Crossroads shop in Meltham.
Joanne is now back in training with the BOK Club at the Stadium pool and has two new targets in her sights.
She’s aiming for gold at both the next European events in Portugal next summer and the next world championships in Italy in 2012.