MEET the European champion born and bred on Wearside – who cheated death to become brilliant on the baize.
More than 15 years on from a horror accident that almost killed her, Emma Wilkinson has reached the pinnacle of pool, something she has devoted countless hours of training throughout her life.
It was in December 1997 that the-then Diamond Hall Infants pupil defied the odds to pull through after she was left with a fractured skull, swelling on the brain and broken legs after being hit by a car near her Lakeside Village home. Requiring emergency surgery at Newcastle General Hospital, she then spent weeks recovering at Sunderland Royal before being allowed home.
Emma, now 22, took the European Ladies title following a tense final against Northern Ireland’s Michelle Rooney at the Imperial Hotel, in Blackpool.
It was a clean sweep for Emma, who was also part of the England Ladies side which took the team title in Lancashire, as they beat their Northern Ireland counterparts 8-4 in the grand final.
Her proud mum Janice, 54, who is married to Emma’s dad Raymond, 53, says the success is richly deserved for her daughter, who first picked up a pool cue before turning three.
“When she was in the hospital in Newcastle, I had to sign a form before she had an operation, because there was a 50/50 chance she could be brain damaged. It was the worst thing I have had to do. It was horrible.
“People say at times I’m too soft with her, but she might not have been here today. She is here, though, and she has done marvellously to get to the Europeans and then win it.
“Everyone is so proud of her.”
Emma has been able to hone her skills on the pool table in the bar of Oddies pub, in Hylton Road, after her family took it over last year.
“I was playing in competitions when I was 11 and it’s just gone from there,” said Emma.
“I don’t really know what attracted me to pool but I just started to enjoy it and then I was playing for teams.”
Despite overcoming her injuries to lead a normal life, Emma still has problems day-to-day.
“Sometimes my brain just switches off and I find it hard to talk to people,” explained Emma, who is sister to Kimberley, 26.
More international competitions are now set to follow for Emma, with her sights firmly set on a trip to Malta in 2014, and she hopes her success will attract sponsorship.
“It would help a lot with travel and accommodation if I could get someone to sponsor me,” she said.
Those interested should call 07771 364 128.
•An article in today’s Sunderland Echo said readers could logon to see a video of Emma in action. Unfortunately we are currently unable to show this video due to technical difficulties. We are sorry for any disappointment caused.