Swimming sensation Danielle Joyce admits she still has to pinch herself when she looks back on her extraordinary double gold medal at the Deaflympics – a feat she calls “the best moment in my life”.
The 21-year-old from Stevenston in Ayrshire was in inspirational form at the Deaflympics in Turkey in the summer as she won gold in the 100m and 50m freestyle and two bronze medals in the 50m backstroke and 4x100m mixed relay. Danielle contributed two of GB’s three gold medals, playing a major role in her country’s 14th-placed finish in the medal table.
Now Danielle has been named as a finalist in the Disability Sports Award category at the 2017 Sunday Mail sportscotland Scottish Sports Awards on 7 December.
The gravity of her achievements has yet to fully sink in but Danielle says she won’t rest on her laurels and is targeting further improvement in 2018.
“This has without a doubt been my best year so far in the pool,” she says.
“Winning two gold Deaflympic medals as well as two bronze is something I never thought I’d be able to do. All I wanted was to come away with one medal, I never in a million years thought I could win a gold never mind two.
“There were so many athletes there from so many different countries.
"To come out on top was the best moment in my life.”
The former North Ayrshire Swim Club and Ren96 member, who now trains and studies at the University of Stirling, has had her share of obstacles to overcome.
Danielle had severe hearing loss in her right ear from birth, but when she was 16 her hearing deteriorated badly, leaving her profoundly deaf in one ear and severely deaf in the other.
She gave up all sports after breaking her ankle playing basketball in the same year, but having found solace in the pool once again, Danielle hasn’t looked back.
She said: “I gave up all sports after breaking my ankle playing basketball.
"In that year my hearing started to deteriorate, which was extremely scary.
"To be told at 16 that you’re going profoundly deaf isn’t something a teenage girl wants to hear.
“It was really hard but I ended up swimming at a small disability competition for my school having been out the pool for a year and I came away with gold medals.
“I realised I still had it in me and being in the pool, deaf or not, still felt like home. I turned a negative into a positive and went down the path of deaf swimming.
“If you had told me when I was going deaf I would win four medals at the 2017 Deaflympics I would have laughed in your face.”
Find out more
The 2017 Sunday Mail sportscotland Scottish Sports Awards will celebrate the inspirational clubs, schools and individuals in sport on 7 December at the Doubletree by Hilton in Glasgow. For more information please go to the website.
If you are interested in swimming and want to know more, visit the Scottish Swimming website.