European Para Youth Games bronze medal joy for Bonnyrigg teenager

A Bonnyrigg teenager was part of the Team GB goalball side which won bronze in Finland last weekend.

Sight impaired Samantha Gough competed in the European Para Youth Games and was the only Scot representing her country at goalball.

Team GB took home bronze after taking on Turkey and Israel. The para sport consists of three players on each side of the court, with the 18 metres wide goals at either end and a blue ball with bells in it, which is thrown by hand and never kicked.

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"It’s really, really fast, and everyone is a goalkeeper,” said Samantha.

"I started playing the sport in 2019 up in Dundee and was selected from there for the GB team. I have been training with them since just after lockdown. I played my first game for GB in April in France and this was my first tournament at the weekend.

"There was a lot of planning and preparation going to Finland for this under 19s competition. It was really exciting. It was a phenomenal experience, I absolutely loved every minute of it. The whole thing was amazing.

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"We got the GB kit and we each wore it with pride.

The 19-year-old has been visually impaired from birth due to cerebral visual impairment (CVI) – a condition which means the eyes are healthy, however the brain’s visual pathways do not work, resulting in sight loss. 

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Samantha Gough from Bonnyrigg, with her first Paralympic medal as part of Team GB.

She now hopes to encourage more people to play goalball. She said: “I have been training for a long time for this moment and it has been worth it all. I went down to England every weekend for training and tournaments, and I have really loved it.

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"It was lots of hard work, but when you love a sport as much as I love goalball you are so determined to succeed and do your best.

"I’m hoping to start my own goalball club in Edinburgh, and after the summer holidays I will be going to primary schools teaching goalball to kids.

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"I didn’t have the best experience of PE at school but I have flipped it around and I want to show young visually impaired people, as well as older people, that they can still play sport.”

Samantha (second from right) with her Team GB colleagues.
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Samantha’s bronze medal comes only weeks after the sporty teenager captained England in the first ever IBSA women’s blind football European Championships, held in Italy in early June.