Silver lining to heavy rainfall at European Transplant Championships as Irish win 6 medals and Garda scores a Gold and Silver


Heavy rainfall in Finland today didn’t deter members of Transplant Team Ireland from putting in great performances in track and field events and winning 6 medals today at the 9th European Transplant & Dialysis Sports Championships which are being held in Vantaa. The weather conditions forced officials to make the decision to postpone the remaining track and field events until tomorrow.

Garda Alan Gleeson, a dialysis patient from Listowel, has won two medals – a Gold in the 100m race and Silver in the Long Jump event. This is the second European Championships for the 34 year old to compete in as he previously took part prior as a young transplant recipient. Alan now undergoes early morning dialysis treatment at Beaumont Hospital three times a week before going to work in a Dublin Garda station. After securing his two medals this morning, an elated Alan said, “It was fantastic. There were very tough conditions and heavy rain but I was happy with the outcome. It’s been a brilliant week and I’m delighted to be here.” Alan will compete in the 200m race and 4 x 100m relay race tomorrow.

The medals tally for Transplant Team Ireland a the Championships which involves over 500 athletes from 25 European countries, with one day to go, is an impressive 17 Gold, 17 Silver and 25 Bronze. At the previous European Championships in Krakow, Ireland was placed in third position on the medals table.

Earlier today Alan’s teammates, kidney transplant recipients, Ron Grainger, an Urologist from Castleknock, Dublin along with his patient James Nolan from Kilcullen also won medals, a Gold and Silver respectively, having also won medals yesterday in Golf events. James, who underwent a kidney transplant from his living donor sister Catherine 29 years ago, won his Silver medal today in the 400m race and Ron won his Gold for the 100m race in his age category. Clare woman Marie O’Connor, a kidney transplant recipient from Lahinch, also won a Silver medal in the 100m race having also secured a medal yesterday in Golf and earlier in the week in Petanque.  Matthew McNeive (age 18) from Knock, the youngest member of the team and kidney transplant recipient, won a Bronze in the 100m race. Matthew also won medals earlier in the week in table-tennis doubles and singles events.

James Nolan, a multi-award winning butcher, said after today’s win, “it bucketed rain but there was a silver lining to the awful weather. Everyone did brilliantly. This time last year I was on my back following a hip replacement so it was really enjoyable to be able to get out and run. My ability to run following the hip replacement is all thanks to Kevin Walker”. James also commented that Ron Grainger put in a very impressive performance in his race.

Also competing today was Nenagh native Orla Hogan in the 3km Race Walk and Ned Crowe in the 100m sprint. Both Orla and Ned put in fantastic performances despite the weather conditions.

Members of the 28 strong Transplant Team Ireland will be competing in other track and field events tomorrow. Later today Stephen Byrne from Tralee, Kerry and Chikoyo White from Balbriggan, Dublin will compete in the mixed doubles bowling event.

The 28 strong team will return home to Dublin airport on Sunday (17th July, Terminal one,, 15.35hrs) greeted in the arrivals hall by an expected large welcoming home party of family, friends and supporters.

The Irish Kidney Association is responsible for the co-ordination and organisation of Transplant Team Ireland’s participation in the European Transplant & Dialysis Championships.

Transplant Team Ireland will return home to Dublin airport terminal 1 next Sunday (at 4pmapprox. airline  For more information on the 9th European Transplant & Dialysis Sports Championships and the Irish athletes visit the team blog or visit the Games website

For an organ donor card Freetext the word DONOR to 50050 or visit website  It is also possible to download an organ donor card on smartphones by searching for ‘Donor ECard at the iphone store or android market place. Your wishes to be an organ donor can also be included on the new format driving licence which is represented by Code 115


For more information contact Gwen O’Donoghue, Connect Communications, on behalf of the Irish Kidney Association. tel 086 8241447


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