A Tipperary woman has cycled her way to victory and won a Gold medal on the third day of events at the 10th European Transplant & Dialysis Sports Championships in Sardinia in the 20km cycling event. Sheila Gregan, a kidney transplant recipient triathlete from Nenagh also won 2 Silver medals for the 5km race on Monday and in the 50m freestyle swimming event yesterday. 25 nations are competing in the weeklong games which come to a close this weekend.
At another beautiful Cagliari location, Poetta Beach, today other members of the 23 strong Irish Team which ranges in age from 31 to 80, amassed a total of 6 Silver and 5 Bronze medals in the Petanque singles and Petanque doubles events. The Petanque singles medals winners included Chikoyo White from Balbriggan, Dublin and Verina Borrisova from Tallaght (both dialysis patients) as well transplant recipients and games Veterans Charlie Ryan from Cobh, Cork (a liver transplant recipient) and John McAleer from Antrim (kidney transplant). Medals were also won in Petanque today by Liver transplant recipient Aoife Murray from Clonsilla, Dublin and kidney transplant recipients Lenny Ryan from Tallaght, Marie O’Connor from Lahinch, in Clare and Finian Farrell from Mullingar, Co Westmeath.
Dubliners Paul Prendergast (Santry) and Team Captain Harry Ward (from Baldoyle) also competed in Petanque events and although they did not win a medal they were content to be part of the experience.
Two members of the team, Rachel Eagleton (Meath) and Pat O’Sullivan (Cork), also competed in the Tennis mixed doubles event today but were knocked out at the quarter finals stage by an Italian duo. Rachel, who took the Silver medal in Tennis Singles yesterday is now finished her events while Pat has track and field events to take part in at the end of the week.
Two of the team’s three members on Dialysis, Chikoyo White and Verina Borissova, both Dubliners, played in the same category in Petanque singles and won Silver and Bronze medals respectively. Chikoyo, was delighted with her Silver in her first competition at the games and then went on to scoop a Bronze medal with teammate Aoife Murray in the Petanque Doubles competition.
Newcomer to the team, Verina, is a native of Bulgaria who lives in Tallaght. Verina is waiting for a kidney transplant and has a functioning pancreas having previously undergone a combined kidney and pancreas transplant. Today’s Bronze for Verina can now be added to the Gold medal which she won on the first day of competition in the Darts single event.
Verina’s doubles partner Aoife Murray (a liver transplant from Clonsilla) also competed in the Petanque singes event and won a Silver medal. Lenny Ryan (kidney transplant from Tallaght), also won Silver medal in the petanque singles event. This was the silver lining for the Aoife as she had previously won a Bronze medal earlier in the week for tennis. At today’s Petanque Clare woman Marie O’Connor (kidney transplant from Lahinch) won a Bronze medal, her second medal having also won a bronze on Monday in the Darts triples team event.
Veterans John McAleer from Antrim who is the oldest member of the Irish team at 80 years and Charlie Ryan from Cobh also showed their mettle in the same category 70+ years in Petanque and with John winning Bronze in his first games event and Charlie winning Silver. Charlie, a retired skipper and liver transplant recipient, then went on to compete with Finian Farrell from Mullingar in the Petanque doubles event where they each won a Silver medal. Charlie had previously won a Gold medal on Monday for Darts and after his performance today in Petanque he added two Silver to his haul. Stephen Byrne (Kerry), Dubliner Harry Ward and Linda Waters (Co. Roscommon) also competed in the Petanque singles event, each putting in great performances.
Sheila Gregan’s 20km cycling event took place on the circuit between Cagliari and Quartu. Sheila won her Gold medal today in the cycling event in her 40-49 year age category said, “I am thrilled with the result. I was third overall in the race and Gold in my age category. t’s Day Three and I’ve finished all my events. It’s been a perfect three days for me. I’m finishing on a high. I do this because I can and that’s all thanks to my donor”.
John McAleer said, “It’s wonderful to be here on the beach in Sardinia in the sun with great company. I really enjoyed the Petanque singles event and it’s a bonus that I secured a Bronze medal. I would like to thank my family for their support and of course my donor family for making it possible for me to be here and all the people who have cared for me over the past 15 years”.
Aoife Murray “I’m having a ball here at the championships. I’m over the moon with a silver medal in Petanque singles. I will compete in the Petanque doubles event with Chikoyo later today which I am really looking forward to it. Being a team Ireland member is like being part of a lovely family where everyone looks out for everyone else. Special mention to Team Captain Harry Ward and Team Manager Colin White. It’s great to share the games experience with my mam, Mags, who has travelled here with me.”
Westmeath’s Finian Farrell said after winning a Silver with doubles teammate Charlie Ryan in his first European Petanque competition said, “It was my first time to compete in Petanque and it was an honour to partner with Charlie. Charlie was brilliant at encouraging me and the rest of the team really supported me and motivated me during the game. I want to thank my donor and my wife and kids for the support and encouragement to attend the training session. Team Ireland are so supportive, they constantly encouraged and advised me today at the event.”
Tallaght man Lenny Ryan said after winning his Silver medal in Petanque, “I’m delighted with my medal. It was really enjoyable event and I’m having a great time at this year’s games. I’m really looking forward to Bowling tomorrow. The Games are an opportunity to showcase that organ donation works. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my donor.”
Pat O’Sullivan from Mallow was very content today despite been beaten in the tennis mixed pairs quarter finals with teammate Rachel Eagleton. He said, “I’m loving my second Transplant Games and this year am feeling more relaxed than my first time. I have been able to take in more events this year as a spectator. It is such a great thing to be part of a big family, our team. The tennis courts are tough here as they are hard courts and the heat is difficult to take but we did get time to acclimatise before we came out because of the great weather Ireland was enjoying. We got beaten in the quarter finals by two Italians and one of them who actually won out against Rachel in the Tennis singles yesterday when Rachel won a Silver medal. I am looking forward to taking part in the 100m and 200m sprint and relay race as well as the long later in the week”.
Team Ireland will tomorrow compete in the Bowling Singles and Golf Events.
Members of the 23 strong Irish team will continue to compete in other sporting disciplines including Bowling, track and field, archery and golf until the games come to a close on Saturday and returning home to Dublin airport on Sunday next 24th June.
The Irish team of 10 women and 13 men ranging in age from 31 to 80 and includes 20 athletes who underwent kidney, pancreas or liver transplants as well 3 dialysis patients. The team are competing amongst competitors from 25 nations which for the first time in the Championships history will include Russia and Kazakhstan. The European Transplant & Dialysis Sports Championships are a celebration of life and showcase the value of sport and regular physical activity for people on dialysis and transplant recipients.
The European Transplant & Dialysis Sports Championships are open to all kidney, liver, heart, lung, pancreas, bone marrow transplant recipients as well as dialysis patients. The multi-sport event includes athletics, badminton, cycling, darts, golf, mini marathon, petanque, swimming, table tennis, tennis, ten pin bowling, virtual triathlon and the hosts have also added archery and surf-casting. Athletes are divided into six age groups (18-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70+). Swimming and track and field bring the sporting specialties total to 39.
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 www.transplantteamireland.wordpress.com or visit the Games website http://www.cagliarietdsc2018.it