Walking up to the tee, Emma Bittorf is preparing for her first shot of the round. She looks down the fairway and smiles because today is going to be a great round of golf.
Special Olympic Alberta-Calgary golfer Emma Bittorf may just be 15-years-old, but she has already earned her spot on Team Canada and is scheduled make her debut at the Special Olympics World Games next year in Abu Dhabi.
“I WAS SUPER HAPPY AND PROUD OF MYSELF AND I FOUND OUT THAT I MADE TEAM CANADA,” SAID EMMA. “[I] WAS SCREAMING AND HAPPY AND CRYING AND IT WAS SO EMOTIONAL.”
Emma has only been golfing for six years, but she has incredible skills and that has allowed her to perform well at every competition level.
Earlier this year Emma competed at Nationals as a member of Team Alberta in Antigonish, Nova Scotia and her play earned her spot on Team Canada.
“It was very special I was blessed and to be alongside her through her journey at Nationals it almost brought tears to my eyes seeing her get that bronze medal,” said Darren Bittorf, Emma’s father and caddy. “She puts in a lot of work so to see her work come to fruition and to see her succeed.”
Emma is indeed a hard worker and her preparations for Worlds are in full swing. Her routine includes daily exercise, practices at the driving range, and hitting the gym for cardio and strength training.
She also took part in the Team Canada training camp in Ontario in October where she was able to meet her teammates and coaches.
The athletes were able to practice and work out, as well as attend nutrition sessions in preparation for Worlds.
“They said to eat healthy and like gave you step counter and you put into the computer and it’s really fun to do that,” said Emma. “Everyone who is going against me is going down – I have school, figure skating, golf, and swimming and I have stuff after school, so I get a lot of steps!”
Her confidence is high and she hopes that working really hard, working out daily, and golfing her best will lead her to her ultimate goal: a gold medal.
Darren will be her caddy for Worlds and to say he is proud is an understatement.“[WE ARE] SUPER EXCITED AND TO SAY SHE IS REPRESENTING CANADA IS SOMETHING INCREDIBLE,” SAID DARREN. “NOT TOO MANY PEOPLE GET TO SAY THEY WORE THE MAPLE LEAF ON THEIR CHEST AT WORLDS, SO IT IS REALLY SPECIAL.”
As she mentioned, Emma truly is a hard worker and in combination with preparing for Worlds, she is also practicing to compete in figure skating at the 2019 Special Olympics Alberta Winter Games in Calgary.
One of her favourite memories with Special Olympics is competing in figure skating in Medicine Hat for regionals where she earned a gold medal.
This time, however, she will compete in front of her home crowd
“It is in Calgary, so I am super excited,” said Emma.
For Emma, Special Olympics means a lot because it is a place of inclusion.
“To me it’s like really fun,” said Emma. “People should be active and come join Special Olympics if they are being bullied they should join something where no one bullies you and says things like not nice.”
This year celebrates Special Olympics 50th Anniversary and the start of a five year plan to spread inclusion on a global scale.
“I WOULD SAY YOU SHOULD JOIN SPECIAL OLYMPICS BECAUSE IT IS SUPER FUN YOU MEET PEOPLE AND MAKE FRIENDS,” SAID EMMA. “ALL THE COACHES ARE SUPER NICE AND THERE’S SO MANY PEOPLE THAT CAN HELP YOU IF NEED IT.”
Emma tightens her grip and prepares to swing. The hard work has paid off and as the ball flies down the fairway she is excited for a great day playing the game she loves.