By Sarah May. 3/08/13
Today marked the final day of the 19th World Transplant Games in Durban, South Africa. Team Ireland consisting of 24 athletes, ten women and fourteen men, ranging in age from 12 to 68, are facing the long journey homewards in good spirits following an inspirational and thoroughly enjoyable week in Durban. While Temperatures were averaging in the comfortable mid-twenties Team Ireland embraced the new culture surrounding them this week. Members of the team took Safari trips, visited the local Ushaka Aquarium and even some brave young individuals undertook the harrowing 88metre high bungee jump from the top of the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Team Ireland’s success continued today securing 3 medals bringing the total medal tally to a staggering 34 medals; 12 Gold, 10Silver and 12 Bronze. The competition at the Games this year was extremely tough and the standards were very high but Team Ireland rose to the challenge, taking medals in most events they participated in.
John Moran and Tony Gartland continued their Games success today, going head to head in the 800m race. Despite incuring an injury yesterday John Moran took the Gold while Tony Gartland took the Bronze in the 800m race. Tony also secured the Gold today in the 5000m racewalk.Tony stated. “It was very tough. At the beginning I though I was fighting for bronze as a polish and spanish athlete were ahead of me however I maintained my pace throughout and overtook them at the end. I am delighted to have a full set of medals going home.” Tony secured Bronze in the 1500m race and Silver in the 5km road race. John Moran also took part in the cycling events taking silver in the 5km time trials and Gold in the 20km cycle. John Connell and Sheila Gregan also took part in the cycling events with speedy times despite a tough course.
Tipperary woman Sheila Gregan took the Gold in the virtual triathlon event which combined her speed in the 20km cycle, the 5km race and the 500 m freestyle swim. Sheila, a regular triathlete and avid swimmer was ecstatic with the result. Sheila reflected on her donor following her win, she stated ” at the end of the day the reason I am here is down to my donor and the decision the donor family took to donate their loved ones organs. I find it difficult to articulate my gratitude in words so I honour my donor by using my body to the best of its’ abilities, through sport.”
Laois man Robbie Lyons competed exceptionally well today in the 200m sprint (18-29). Robbie also competed in the long jump yesterday and succeeded in taking the bronze. Robbie stated following his win, “participating in the Games reminds me that being here is all down to my donor and their family’s decision to donate their family members’ organs.” Robbie along with fellow team Ireland members Tony Gartland, John Moran and James Nolan formed a relay team today and competed in the 4X400 relay event. The Team ran well despite facing stiff competition. Team Ireland’s youngest competitor twelve year old Oisin O’ Gorman also took Bronze at the track and field in the long jump yesterday. Oisin was thrilled with the win and wanted to thank his family for all their support. Oisin narrowly missed out on a medal in the 100m sprint coming fourth, 0.3seconds behind the athlete taking Bronze.
Team Ireland’s new additions Andrew Duncan and Brian Carney proved to be fantastic new additions to the team. Tipperary teenager Andrew Duncan proved to be a pro at the racket sports bagging a total of four medals; two gold, one silver and one bronze in squash, badminton and table tennis. Andrew was thrilled with the successes of the week he said, “the Games are really fantastic. The competition has been very tough so it’s great to come out with some medals at the end of the week. The team, my family and friends have given me fantastic support. Everyone here is so friendly and I’ve met so many wonderful people from all over the world.” Killester man Brian Carney took 3 medals in the 30-39 age category; a silver in golf pairs, a silver in lawn bowls and a bronze in the golf singles event.
Brian was not Team Ireland’s only successful golfer this week as medals were also won by his fellow Team Ireland members; Eoin Hurley, James Nolan and Seamus Eager. James Nolan and Brian Carney took the Silver in the pairs golf event while Seamus Eager and Eoin Hurley took the bronze in the golf pairs event. Kildare man James Nolan took Gold in the golf singles event (40-49). James was overwhelmed with the win. Following the success James attributed his golf success to the encouragement of his late father Andy Nolan. Eoin Hurley, a kidney transplant recipient from Waterford also secured Gold in the golf singles event (18-29) category. Eoin paired up with Seamus Eager in the golf pairs event and the team secured a bronze. Seamus the teams only heart transplant recipient also had success this week at the lawn bowls event, taking silver in the 60-69category.
Petanque and Lawn Bowls saw many victories for Team Ireland this week with Sligo Woman Bridie Nicholson and Cork woman Catherine Murphy taking Gold in the Petanque doubles event and bronze in the lawn bowls pairs event.
Catherine also took Silver in the Lawn Bowls event.Tallaght native James Reynolds took Gold in the Lawn Bowls event and bronze in the Petanque event(18-29 category). James was delighted with his success this week.
Team Captain Harry Ward also competed in the Lawn Bowls and Petanque events along with the badminton event at which he paired with Donegal woman Vienna White. Harry spoke on the Games and Team Ireland, He said “It’s wonderful to be here with such a wonderful team and it’s fantastic to see them all competing to the best of their abilities.”
Team manager Colin White spoke on the success of this year’s Games stating, “our hosts put on a spectacular week that brought together inspiring people from all over the world to celebrate the gift of life through sport and demonstrate that organ donation and transplantation works.”
Team Ireland are sad to say goodbye to South Africa and to the 19th World Transplant Games, however they all look forward to seeing friends and family once again. The Team shall attend the Gala Dinner tonight to mark their last night at the Games in Durban
The Irish Kidney Association is responsible for managing Transplant Team Ireland’s participation at the Games.
Team Ireland shall arrive home in Dublin Airport Terminal 2 at 12:15 on Monday the 5th of August.
For organ donor cards Freetext DONOR to 50050 of contact the Irish Kidney Association on locall 1890 543639 or log on to http://www.ika.ie You can now store your donor card details on your smart phone by downloading the free Organ Donor Ecard app.