The Irish got off to a great start at the World Transplant Games in track and field at Gateshead International Stadium today as newcomer to Transplant Team Ireland,Thomas Flannery, a lung transplant recipient from Monaghan won a Gold medal in the Shot Putt.
This was followed up with a Silver medal for kidney transplant recipient Pat O’Sullivan from Mallow for his personal best in the Long Jump. Soon after a Bronze medal was won by bone marrow transplant recipient Trevor Lynch from Limerick and now living in the UK as he sprinted his way to success in the 1500m race and this was followed up with the unstoppable John Moran from Glasnevin, Dublin who won a Silver in another 1500m race, an exceptional result after the 61 year old sustained a ham string injury half way through his race and having previously won two Gold medals earlier in the week in 10K and 30K cycling events and thirty four years after he received his kidney from his brother Frank.
The youngest member of the team Jack O’Brien (age 16) from Navan, Co Meath lept his way to his second Bronze medal of the games with a distance of 4.84 meters in the Long Jump coming in just behind the second place distance 4.86. The evening before he won a Silver medal in Darts at St. James’ Park at his first World Transplant Games.
A third Bronze was won by retired medic (Urologist) Ron Grainger who is affectionately known as the ‘Flying Doctor’ for his consistent success at Transplant Games track and field events and golf. Having already won two bronze medals for Golf, today he turned his focus to athletics taking a Bronze for the 100m sprint in the 60-69 age category. He was delighted to have crossed the finish line in third place with a time of 15.52 after which he said, “I’m very happy. The competitors that came first and second were nearly ten years my junior. I didn’t put pressure on myself. I wanted to run the best I could. As always this is to honour my donor and I am so thankful for what I have. To be alive and as well as I am is wonderful. The whole point of this is to celebrate who made this possible and to be here and well doing that is absolutely amazing”.
Other members of the team are competing in the 100m sprint today. Marie O’Connor from Lahinch came fourth in her 100m race having won a Gold for golf individual score on Monday. Emma O’Sullivan from Ballyragget, Kilkenny and now living in Glin, Limerick has been nursing a head cold since before she arrived at the games. She also took part in a 100m spint race today and at the 5km event on the first day of competition but did not make it on to the medals podium. Also competing in the 100m sprint today was Arklow native Philip Kavanagh.
Taking part in the 400m race today were James Nolan from Kildare also missed out on a medal. Following his race he reflected on the week so far saying, “sitting in the opening ceremony the other night 2600 people united by organ donation, there was a tangible appreciation for life from everyone. Seeing old friends, making new ones, the games make you stop and think about how lucky we are. Having Emma and Andrew James (wife and son) here and being able to call Catherine my donor to say thank you is what it is all about. Life is precious and this reminds me of how lucky I am.”
At another location, The Northumberland Club, two Irish women batted it out in the Tennis doubles event to win Gold. The tennis pairs were Sheila Gregan from Nenagh, Tipperary and Rachel Eagleton from Bettystown, Meath who thanked their donors. This was not the first success for the two kidney transplant ladies as the evening before Rachel won a hard fought Silver medal for the Tennis singles event while Sheila was the first medal winner for the team at the games having won Bronze in the 5km road race and a Silver for the team event in the same race with Sinead McGowan from Renmore, Galway (now living in Australia) and Anna Pokojska from Killarney, Kerry (from Poland and has been living in Ireland for thirteen years).
Sheila said, “We’re delighted with the result today. We played two ladies from the Netherlands in the first match – we won the first set and then they won 4-1 in the second. Thankfully we won the tie-breaker 10-7. In the second match against two German ladies we won both sets 4-2 which was a comfortable win. I’d want to thank my donor and Nenagh Tennis Clubs Ladies team. Rachel added, ” It’s our first time playing doubles together at the Games and it’s hard for us to train as we live so far from each other, so we are thrilled! We are both finished our events for the week now so we’ll be celebrating tonight!” Rachel said, I’d like to thank our donors, their families and supporters. I’d like to thank my coach David Black.”
Thomas Flannery, a retired Garda superintendent following his Gold in the shot putt said, “First of all it’s great to be here, a lot of people are responsible for that happening, my donor, the hospital team for heart and lung transplants and my family. To be able to compete is excellent and to win a medal is the icing on the cake. Three and a half years ago to think that I might be here was outrageous. I am delighted everything has worked out. It’s great to be here, the atmosphere and camaraderie between all the competitors is excellent.”
An ecstatic Pat O’Sullivan who works as a Regional Manager for Irish Rail said after his race, “I’m so emotional, when they called out the results I had to take a moment to myself. I rang home to tell them and was so emotional. We are here because of our donors. I had a tough time training, so to get a personal best with my first jump and a second personal best on my fourth at 4.78 meters is fantastic. The buzz and the camaraderie of the team is amazing if there are any transplant recipients out there, just go and find sport you enjoy and come at compete at these wonderful games. 13 years ago when I didn’t have the energy to climb a stairs I never thought I’d be here. This is all down to the donors and the surgeons, my nephrologist Liam Plant, my wonderful family and friends, the people in my local GAA club, athletics in Mallow and Heather O’Brien, my physio!”
Soon after Pat O’Sullivan’s win news came in from back at the Shot Putt that his fellow Corkman Mike Keohane, a liver transplant recipient from Roscarberry, was pipped to 3rd place but content to settle for fourth place without a medal after winning a Gold the day before in the Darts triples with teammates Charlie Ryan, also from Cork and Jerome Lyness from Meath.
Trevor Lynch, who works in IT spoke about the strategy he employed to win Bronze in his 1500m race, “I had a strategy and I stuck to it. if I went out too fast it wouldn’t have worked. I did 700m at a comfortable pace and sucked diesel at the end. The crowd roaring was brilliant, it really helped me around the end as well as, of course, thinking of my donor.”
John Moran who sustained an injury in his 1500m race but still managed to win a Silver said, “It was a tough race, my hamstring went halfway through this race. It’s great to have my family here supporting me including my wife Angela and daughters and Michelle’s boyfriend Nathan.”
Also competing in the 1500m and 400m race today was Sinead McGowan, native of Renmore and living in Australia.
Aodhagan Cullen from Cavan, Michael Dwyer from Dublin, Tommy Marrett, Louth and Mick O’Shea from Mallow, Cork also took part in the ball throw event today where they faced stiff competition.
The final event of the day for the Irish team of four athletes ranging in age from 16 to 69 on track and field was the 4x100m mixed age relay race with Corkman Mick O’Shea, Dubliner Ron Grainger, Jack O’Brien from Meath and Kieran Murray from Donegal. They were happy with their time of 55.44 seconds despite not coming in the top three. Kieran Murray from Ramelton, “It was great to end the day with a team event. it was fantastic to have a team ranging in age from 16 to 68 which captured the ethos of the Games and the team spirit.”
Friday will see Irish athletes compete in the last day of competition at Track and Field events.
The team will return home to Dublin Airport’s terminal one on Saturday, 24th August (Ryanair flight from Newcastle arrives Dublin 12.30pm).
Transplant Team Ireland includes 38 athletes who have each undergone transplants including bone marrow (1), heart (1), liver (4), lung (1) and kidney (31). The team of 29 men and 9 women will return home to Dublin airport terminal one on Saturday, 24th August (Ryanair flight from Newcastle which is expected to land at 12.30pm).
At the World Transplant Games will athletes can compete in their respective age categories in the following events: petanque, badminton, cycling, darts, golf, squash, swimming, table tennis, ten pin bowling, tennis, mini-marathon, and track and field.
This year the team has gratefully received support from Swim Ireland, Athletics Ireland and Irish Squash. The on-going coaching support from Swim Ireland has been particularly welcomed. Astellas Pharma Ltd. has again provided some sponsorship towards the costs of running the team.
For more information on World Transplant Games and the Irish athletes visit the Irish team blog www.transplantteamireland.ie Visit the Games website www.worldtransplantgames.org
The Irish Kidney Association will host the European Transplant & Dialysis Sports Championships in Dublin next summer (August 2nd-9th 2020) and its primary goal is to promote the importance and success of organ donation for transplantation.
THE FULL IRISH PANEL IS AS FOLLOWS (their individual ‘athlete profiles’ are on the team blog www.transplantteamireland.ie):-
ANTRIM: JohnMcAleer, Newtownabbey (kidney) (oldest member of the team)
CAVAN: Aodhagan Cullen, Cavan (kidney)
CLARE: Marie O’Connor,Lahinch (kidney)
CORK: MikeKeohane, Rosscarbery (liver); Charlie Ryan, Cobh (liver); Michael Kiely, Mitchelstown, on the Limerick border (kidney); Pat O’Sullivan, Mallow (kidney)
Michael O’Shea, Mallow (Heart)
DONEGAL: Kieran Murray, Ramelton (kidney)
GALWAY: Sinead McGowan, Renmore (living in Australia) (kidney)
KERRY: AnnaPokojska,Killarney,via Poland Did the Ring of Kerry Cycle previous day (kidney)
KILDARE: James Nolan, Kilcullen (kidney) International award winning butcher – underwent a living donor kidney transplant 32 years ago (kidney)
KILKENNY VIA LIMERICK: Emma O’Sullivan (kidney)
LIMERICK via UK: Trevor Lynch,Cappamore, (Bone Marrow)
LOUTH: TommyMarrett, Ardee (kidney)
MAYO via UK: Julie O’Neill,Westport- Award winning businesswoman, underwent living donor transplant from brother 37 years ago (kidney);
MEATH: TonyGavigan, Navan & native of LONGFORD father of deceased donor (kidney);
Jerome Lyness, Navan,(kidney);
Rachel Eagleton, Bettystown – youngest female on the team (33) (kidney);
Jack O’Brien, Navan, – youngest member of the team (16) (kidney);
MONAGHAN: TomasFlannery, Tandarageebane (Lung);
TIPPERARY: Orla Hogan, Nenagh (kidney); Sheila Gregan, Nenagh (kidney);
WATERFORD via Dublin: Eoin Hurley (age 25, student at TCD)(kidney)
WESTMEATH: Finian Farrell, Mullingar (kidney);
Noel Marsden, Athlone (kidney)
John Connell, Mullingar, living in South Africa (kidney);
WICKLOW: Garry Campbell, Greystones (kidney);
Philip Kavanagh, Arklow (liver);
DUBLIN: RonGrainger, Castleknock, D.15 (kidney);
Harry Ward, Team Captain, Baldoyle, D.13 (kidney);
Paul Prendergast, Santry, D.9 (kidney);
Anthony Byrne, Artane (kidney);
Peter Heffernan, Skerries (kidney);
Leonard Ryan, Tallaght (kidney);
Michael Dwyer, Cabinteely (kidney);
Deirdre Faul, Dalkey (liver);
John Moran, Glasnevin, celebrating 34th anniversary of living donor transplant from brother (kidney) .
TEAM MANAGER, Colin White fromBalbriggan, Dublin
TEAM DOCTOR AyanfeObilana
For organ donor cardsFreetext DONOR to 50050 or visit website www.ikw.ie/get-a-donor-card You can also download the IKA’s digital organ donor to your smartphone. Your wishes to be an organ donor can also be included on the new format driving licence which is indicated on the back of the card by Code 115.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Colin White, Team Manager Tel. 353 1 6205306 mob. 353 87 6843644 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gwen O’Donoghue, Media co-ordinator. Mob. 353 86 8241447 Email: email@example.com
Harry Ward, Team Captain mob. 353 85 2137512 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org