The taste of glory was most definitely shining down on members of Transplant Team Ireland at the World Transplant Games in Perth as they added another world transplant record and 2 Gold, 1 Silver and 1 bronze to their medals tally today (Friday) while our two triathletes put in a valiant performance. Their total medals tally at the Games, with all competition events now concluded, is 7 Gold, 6 Silver and 4 bronze . An impressive performance for a relatively small Irish team of 14! It has yet to be confirmed where they were placed overall on the medals table amongst 1,520 supporters from 46 countries.
The first person to undergo a liver transplant in Ireland 30 years ago at St. Vincent’s University Hospital, Tony Gartland from Hacketstown, Carlow (on the Wicklow border), is not only celebrating the successful longevity of his transplant. Today the 59-year-old won a Bronze medal for his stamina in coming third in the 5,000 meters racewalk event.
The unstoppable Cork woman Mairead O’ Mahony who has garnered huge respect not just from her home team and supporters but from teams around the world. With temperatures in the searing sun in the early 30s, she stormed through the 800m race at the WA Athletics Stadium seizing her second Gold medal this week. A couple hours later she was on the medals podium for a second time for winning a Silver medal in the Javelin event for her throw of 19.74 meters. Her first-time representing Ireland in Transplant Sport, the 44-year-old mother of one who received a bone marrow transplant from her donor brother when she was 18, has now earned the reputation as ‘the one to beat’ in world transplant athletics.
Another ‘one to beat’ in athletics is Ron Grainger from Castleknock Dublin who has defied the concept of slowing down in old age. After making a world transplant time record (16.14) in the 100 m event yesterday (Thursday), the retired Urologist and kidney transplant recipient went on to break another world record today (Friday) in the 200m race with a time of 33.97 beating the previous record of 35.93 in the age category 70-79 for which he was rewarded with his second Gold medal. Proving his sporting diversity he also won a Silver and Bronze in Golf events earlier in the week. Dubbed ‘the flying doctor’ Ron is certainly enjoying his golden years. With extra luggage of 5 heavy medals to take around with him (2 Gold, 1 Silver and 1 Bronze medals), Ron will be extending his time in Australia with his wife Joyce who has been his number one supporter throughout the games.
Earlier today triathletes and kidney transplant recipients Sheila Gregan from Nenagh, Co Tipperary and Bryan Duignan from Palatine, Carlow were competing in the triathlon event (swim 500m, cycle 20kand 5km run. Both athletes put in valiant efforts and even though they didn’t reach they medals platform they can return home proud of their performances and embracing their positive experience at the games. Today Sheila was placed 4th with a time of 1.32.17 while Bryan was placed 7th with his time of 1.21.32. Bryan will be returning home to Dublin airport on Thursday with his partner Lara and three young children who have been his biggest fans throughout. Sheila will be staying on to enjoy spending time with her daughter who lives down under.
Tony Gartland described his experience after clenching Bronze success in his final race of the games having also competed in two events earlier in the week he said, “It is 30 years since my transplant and at this stage I am acutely aware of how precious life is. I am very grateful for the last 30 years. Sport has done so much for me over those years. I can never thank my Donor enough. All I can do is live my life to the fullest extent possible. Medals are nice but they are a bonus.”
Ron Grainger spoke today after his 200m race saying, “ In the 200 meters I ran my heart out and I’m delighted to have won the race and broken a world transplant time record for my age. I am so grateful to my donor for making it possible for me to be here.”
Each of the athletes has funded their participation in the Games (Games registration, flights, accommodation, and meals) through fundraising in the name of the Irish Kidney Association/Transplant Team Ireland, and using their own funds. The team is proud to wear the Team Kit which, this year, has been sponsored by the Health Services Staffs Credit Union (HSSCU).