Transplant Team Ireland swim and swing their way to success on Day 2 of European Transplant Games in Sardinia

Transplant Team Ireland continued its winning streak on the second day of events at the 10th European Transplant & Dialysis Sports Championships in Cagliari, Sardinia.  Irish swimmers and tennis players excelled today with 3 Gold medals won by Golden girl Deirdre Faul, plus 4 silver and 3 bronze medals at the Swimming events won by Deirdre and her team mates,  as well as 1 Bronze and 1 Silver at the Tennis events.

In swimming events at S. Sicbaldi swimming pool the Irish team cleaned up as they won three Gold, four Silver and three bronze medals. In tennis singles earlier today Aoife Murray (31) won a Bronze medal and Rachel Eagleton (31) won a Silver in the same event.

Champion Swimmer Deirdre Faul (age 50) kept up her stellar success record scooping three Gold and two Silver medals in her five races. Her first Gold was won in the 50m Freestyle event which was crowned with her personal best time of 36.51 seconds beating a Hungarian who took Silver and a UK athlete who came third.  A couple hours earlier Deirdre, a liver transplant recipient from Dalkey, seized a Silver medal in the 400m Freestyle where once again a Hungarian proved to be stiff competition coming in first and a Hungarian athlete coming third.  In the afternoon, despite the heat and humidity the formidable Deirdre went on to win another Gold in the 50m Breaststroke with another personal best time and she also won a Silver in the 100m Breast Stroke.  She creamed her mighty performance in her final swim race of the day scooping her third Gold in the 100m Freestyle event.

Deirdre’s Teammate Peter Heffernan from Skerries, Dublin also proved he was a force to be reckoned with by winning a Silver medal in his second last race of the day – the 100m freestyle. He also won two bronze medals, a Bronze in the 400m Freestyle swimming event, and he then went on to win his second Bronze of the day in the 50m Freestyle against stiff competition from UK and Hungary. 

At the end of her phenomenal day Deirdre Faul said, “I’m pleased with how I swam today. I achieved two personal bests, one in the 50m freestyle and one in the 50m breast-stroke. The schedule was very busy and it was a challenge with mixed age categories. I’ve really appreciated the support of Swim Ireland and I’m looking forward to working with them again on improving times for the World Games. Of course a big thanks to my donor and donor family for giving me the gift of life”.

Delighted with his successes,Peter Heffernan, a kidney transplant recipient said, “It was a great day here. We all did well. It’s great to see the full Irish team getting medals at the swimming. On days like this I want to say thanks to my donor and spread the message that organ donation works and that life goes on after transplant. In fact you get a news lease of life after transplantation”.

Triathlete Sheila Gregan from Nenagh, Co Tipperary continued in her streak of success since winning a Silver medal yesterday in the 5km race she topped this by winning her second Silver medal today in the 50m freestyle swimming event coming in the same race ahead of fellow teammate Orla Hogan, also from Nenagh, who won a Bronze medal.

Sheila Gregan, a kidney transplant recipient said, “This is my favourite discipline. I’ve been training with Nenagh masters this year. There was very tough competition in the pool as there was mixed age categories so it makes the achievement all the more special. I’m forever grateful for my donor and their family. I’m so proud to be swimming for my country. It’s a great honour.”

Orla Hogan has undergone 4 kidney transplants and this month celebrates the 10th anniversary of the living donor kidney transplant she received from her brother Cathal. Orla said after winning her bronze in swimming, “It’s just great being here and that all of us are well enough to compete and to show our donors that organ donation works”.

Sheila will compete in her final event, the 20km cycling race, on Wednesday while Orla has two more disciplines to compete in later in the week – 10 pin bowling and the 3km Power walk.

At another venue across the city in Cagliari at the Su Planu Tennis Club, Rachel Eagleton, the youngest member of Transplant Team Ireland (31), from Bettystown, Co Meath played her way to the tennis singles finals, in which she competed against the defending world champion from Italy and secured a Silver medal. In the qualifiers for the same Tennis singles event,  liver transplant recipient, Aoife Murray (also 31) from Clonsilla in Dublin played in the semi-final and came away with a Bronze medal in the 18-39 age category.  Finian Farrell, a kidney transplant recipient from Mullingar, Co Westmeath was knocked out in his first tennis singles competition by the current World champion from Poland.

Following the final Rachel Eagleton said, “Today was really enjoyable. I’m happy with how I played and I’m looking forward to playing in the mixed doubles tomorrow with Pat. It’s been a great week so far. A big thank you to my donor and their family. The decision they made to donate is why I’m here today.”

Aoife Murray said after receiving a bronze in Tennis said, “It was a great experience taking part in the Tennis competition today. Some fantastic games of tennis were played by all the athletes in some extremely hot conditions.  I just want to thank the team for all their support and my mother who is here with me and also family and friends at home. But most of all I want to thank my donor and the donor family for giving me a new life which means I can compete at these wonderful games with athletes from 25 different countries. It’s been a great experience so far with much more to come throughout the week.”

The team’s success today follows on from the first day of events at the Games (Monday 18th June) when they won 8 medals including 2 Gold, 1 Silver and 5 Bronze in the 5km and Darts.

Tomorrow Team Ireland will compete in the Petanque, 20km Road Race and Tennis Mixed Doubles Events.

A homecoming reception for Transplant Team Ireland will take place at Dublin airport’s arrivals hall (Terminal 1) when the team arrives home on a Eurowings flight from Dusseldorf on Sunday 24th June around 3.15pm. 

The Irish Kidney Association is the charity organisation which manages Transplant Team Ireland’s participation at British, European and World Transplant Games events.

For more information on the 10th European Transplant & Dialysis Sports Championships and the Irish athletes visit the team blog or visit the Games website

Organ Donor Cards can also be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association tel. 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. Visit website or download the ‘Digital Organ Donor card’. Your wishes to be an organ donor can also be included on the new format driving licence which is represented by Code 115.

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