Belfast Telegraph

53 medals are scooped by our Transplant Games heroes

By Victoria O'Hara

Gold, silver and bronze medals will be making their way back to Northern Ireland today after a team of inspirational athletes won more than 50 medals at the UK Transplant Games.

Over four days 35 athletes – six children and 29 adults – who have undergone organ donation competed in a range of events including swimming, athletics, golf and 10-pin bowling.

They will fly back to Northern Ireland with an impressive 53 medals: 17 gold, 20 silver and 16 bronze.

They were among 600 competitors whose lives have been transformed after receiving a new organ who travelled to the annual games in Bolton.

The aim behind the games is to showcase the life-changing benefits of organ donation and transplantation.

On 'Super Saturday' alone, Team TSNI (Transplant Sport Northern Ireland) hauled in 30 medals.

There was great success in the swimming with 23 medals won –nine gold, eight silver and six bronze .

Four medals were also won in the walk event – one gold, two silver and a bronze.

And in the mini marathons, one silver and two bronze medals were awarded.

However, on the final day, adverse weather brought on by the tail end of Hurricane Bertha led to a cancellation of some athletic events.

Despite the bad weather Marie Devine (49) from Bangor, who received a new kidney in 2004, went on to win four medals –three gold and one silver in track events.

And 21-year-old Hannah Kee from Lisburn, who also received a life-saving kidney transplant, is bringing five medals back to Northern Ireland.

She won a gold in the shot put, a silver in the discus and three bronze medals in swimming events.

And Janet Coleman (50), the Great Britain and Northern Ireland Transplant Games swimming coach, also stood on the podium.

She won four silver medals for the 100m and 200m freestyle, the backstroke and 50m freestyle.

Meanwhile, Aaron Browne (17) from south Belfast – who was one of the six children competing – also won a silver medal in the football.

His mother Arlene donated a kidney to him when he was seven – giving him a second lease of life.

"It has been fantastic for everyone," Janet Coleman said.

"I just felt that I could still compete – I hadn't really trained, but the whole point behind the Games is being able to get involved."

Janet, a kidney transplant recipient, added: "I was here to talent spot for the World Games – that was my main role. And I'm happy to say that there are plenty of people who I believe will be on that plane to Argentina.

"I was just really delighted as the main aim behind the Games was to celebrate life."

Background

More than 200 people in Northern Ireland are currently waiting for an organ transplant. Hazel Gibson, Northern Ireland Children's Team manager, said: "I talked to parents who said how much they get from going and meeting other people who have children that have had a transplant. It is a real celebration not just for the transplant recipient, but their family and loved ones." To sign the organ donor register, go to organdonation.nhs.uk

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