A YOUNG Barrhead woman aims to take the world of sport by storm this year as she flies the flag for East Renfrewshire on a global stage.

Niamh Junner will compete at the European Karate Championships in Guadalajara, Spain, later this month, having secured fifth place in the same competition last year.

The 21-year-old student will then target glory at the World Karate Championships, to be held in Budapest, Hungary, in October.

Nimah, who is currently ranked at number 40 on the planet, is used to flooring her opponents but also faces a challenge away from the sporting arena as karate is self-funded, with little prize money.

In the last year, she has travelled to Chile, Egypt and Azerbaijan for competitions, at great cost.

Niamh relies on sponsorship and fundraising to keep her dreams of world domination alive.

Among the Barrhead businesses providing help is the Dalmeny Park House Hotel, where she works part-time as a bartender.

Niamh has paid tribute to hotel owners Robert and Vivien Kyle, who allow her time off to compete and also provided a function room for a fundraising dinner last month that coined in £3,000.

She told the Barrhead News: “Thanks to Robert and Vivien, I was able to raise enough to participate at these competitions this year.

“They have been very supportive, allowing me to work with flexibility that gives me the opportunity to train and compete all over the world. I cannot thank them enough.”

Niamh, who is studying anatomy at the University of Glasgow, admits it is a “very big year” for her as she goes for gold at both the European and World events.

“I will be competing against the best in my sport,” she said. “These are the competitions that you want to win and that is what I am striving for.”
Niamh has lived in Barrhead all her life and is a former pupil of Cross Arthurlie Primary.

By taking up karate, she followed in the footsteps of mum Lesley Anne and dad Douglas, who are both black belts and competition referees.

They also drive her to Scotland training sessions in Stirling and to competitions down south.

Looking further ahead, Niamh is targeting Olympic gold at the 2028 Games in Los Angeles, as it is hoped that, by then, karate will have been adopted as an Olympic sport.