Camira athlete Kirsty Johnson defied a personal setback to win three gold medals at the recent national titles.
Camira athlete Kirsty Johnson defied a personal setback to win three gold medals at the recent national titles.

Golden girl pays moving tribute

WITH her late father’s words “get angry” echoing in her head, Camira competitor Kirsty Johnson soared to a memorable hat-trick at the 2010 Australian All Schools Athletics Championships in Melbourne.

Just four months after the shock death of her father Ray, the strong-willed 13-year-old won the under-14 girls’ 200m and 400m. She also helped Queensland clinch the 4x100m relay.

Ray would have been proud of his brave daughter’s efforts this month.

“In a way it felt he was still with me,” Kirsty said. “It felt like he was with me when I was running, but with me in spirit.

“Before every race he would say to me ‘get angry, that’s the only way you can win is if you get angry and if you want it bad enough’.

“In my 400m heat race I was 10 metres in front of the next runner and coming to the finish line I thought of my dad and thought how proud he would be of me right now.”

Ray, 58, died on August 22 of a heart attack – one day after his son Steven’s 16th birthday party.

Ray was a shed builder, a joker and a proud father. Kirsty was devastated when she heard her dad had suddenly passed away in his sleep.

But the courageous teen powered on with inspiring displays at regionals and states.

She became the third Johnson sibling to represent Queensland at nationals.

But unlike her sister Trudy, 18, and brother Steven, Kirsty was able to claim a national honour.

“It means so much to me, it has sort of sunk in,” she said.

“My dream before was to just go to nationals, but to win three gold medals, it was just so amazing. I didn’t expect it.”

Under the guidance of coach Jo Spyro and with the help of remedial therapist Paula Potts, Kirsty braved scorching temperatures to break two personal best times during her first national meet.

The Westside Christian College student clocked a personal best time of 25.68s in the 200m heat.

While she didn’t improve her time in the final, she still managed to finish first, with a time of 25.88s.

After helping Queensland win the 4x100m relay, Kirsty showed plenty of heart to hold off her fast-finishing rivals in the 400m final to finish the tournament with three gold medals.

“The 400m was a very close race and at the time we didn’t know who had won,” said Kirsty, who crossed the finish line in a personal best time of 58.09s. “But once I found out it was me I couldn’t believe it. I was in tears. It was just such a good feeling.”

Kirsty nominates Sally Pearson as her idol. While she’s still young, Kirsty aspires to one day represent Australia at the Olympics.

After her inspirational effort in Melbourne, Kirsty feels closer to reaching that goal.



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