Gillian Johnstone – Taking on the world

Gillian Johstone carrying the Olmpic flame

Gillian Johnstone is 18 years old and has been visually impaired and registered blind most of her life. She is also moderately deaf, wear hearing aids and has dyslexia. Gillian has always had a very positive outlook and has been a continual inspiration to her teachers and everyone with whom she makes contact with.

Even though she has undergone a number of critical operations to save her sight over the years, she never complains and deals very well with her disabilities. Gillian is a very intelligent young lady and has just passed her Higher English & history exams.

 Gillian has climbed 82 Munros and 4 years ago took up running. Joining Red Star Athletics at Crown Point in Glasgow, they were extremely supportive and it allowed her to train at night in a floodlit track. A year later Gillian joined Kilmarnock Harriers and has had tremendous support from her coach Graham Richmond.

Gillain Johnstone (18) standing on a snowy mountain top

In 2012 Gillian was awarded the Disabled athlete of the year award by East Ayrshire Council. Gillian is now a part of the Developing Potential Athlete programme within East Ayrshire Council. She is now a well-established member of the SDS Scotland squad. Gillian has represented SDS Scotland at the English Federation of Disability sports Championships and has won gold in the 400m, 800m & 1500m and in fact has retained all titles over the past 3 years.

In 2013, Gillian represented Scottish Schools at the Sainsbury’s UK Schools games in Sheffield and won a silver medal in the 1500m

Very early on Gillian realised that she had a talent for endurance running and is well known to the people of her village in Darvel, as she is always out running around the local countryside with her Dad as her running guide. At 15 years old she started running 5K races and continues to run at Strathclyde Park – Parkrun events on a Saturday morning. She has ran in many 10K events around Scotland including the Deaf Blind Scotland 10k, Troon 10k, Giffnock North 10k, Pitlochry 10k, Killin 10k and many more. In nearly all of these races she has been the first female finisher in her age group!

In 2014 she was nominated and chosen by East Ayrshire council to be a Commonwealth Baton Bearer. When Gillian turned 17 years old, her target was to train and run Half Marathon races. In her very first race at the Alloa Half Marathon on 15/03/2015, she instantly became the youngest & fastest visually impaired runner ever, based on the records of the British athletics – power of 10 / Run Britain. Her time was 1.42.56. She is also currently the second fastest Disabled half marathon runner of all time, based on the same records. She has also ran the Coniston 14, Keswick Half Marathon and the Loch Leven Half Marathon, again on each occasion being the first female finisher in her age category. Her next target is the Paralympics 2020 Marathon and who would bet against her making it!

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