Team Ireland returns from World Transplant Games with 32 medals

Pic: Conor McCabe

The 27 members of Transplant Team Ireland were welcomed home by a large gathering of family, friends and supporters at Dublin Airport today showing off their haul of 32 medals from the 21st World Transplant Games in Malaga.

The tournament involved 1000 competitors from 51 countries and every athlete who competed will have received a kidney, liver, heart, lung, pancreas or bone marrow transplant.

The Irish team’s impressive medals haul includes 14 Gold, seven Silver and 11 Bronze from various sporting events.

Dublin's Deirdre Faul, a liver transplant recipient, managed to break two world records in the swimming pool on her way to winning four gold medals, including her 6th world title in Squash.

The team, who range in age from 30 to 79, includes four liver transplant recipients and 23 kidney transplant recipients.

Transplant Team Ireland at the opening of the World Transplant Games in Malaga.

In daily temperatures up in the mid-30s, four newcomers joined the Irish team for the games and Michelle Reinhardt McCabe a kidney transplant recipient from Smithboro Monaghan, won two Gold medals in athletics at her first ever transplant games.

Galway native Sinead McGowan travelled from Australia, where she now lives, to join the team and put in outstanding performances in track and field events clinching two Gold and two Silver medals.

Darts featured in the Games for the first time and Cork man Charlie Ryan, from Cobh, added a world title to his five European titles and took home with him two Gold medals as well as a Bronze which he won along with Dubliner Lenny Ryan and fellow Cork man Mike Keohane in the Darts triples event.

Mike also won two Silver medals for the Discus and 5k race walk event. Wicklow man Garry Campbell won two Gold for Golf singles as well as in the Golf pair’s event with Dubliner Michael Dwyer.

Michael Dwyer hugging John McAleer after the golf singles event at the World Transplant Games in Malaga.

Marie O’Connor from Lahinch in Clare also won a Gold medal for Golf along with a Bronze medal for Petanque. The oldest member of the team John McAleer, aged 79 and from Antrim, won a bronze medal in Golf, while the youngest member of the team Rachel Eagleton, aged 30 and from Bettystown, Co. Meath, won a Silver medal in Tennis.

Daily temperatures in the mid 30s added an extra challenge for athletes and supporters but Team Doctor, Claire Kennedy, ensured that everyone kept well.

Colin White, the National Projects Manager of the Irish Kidney Association and the Ireland Team Manager, said: "Team members, competitors and supporters alike, should be proud of their performance throughout the week. We continued our long held record of winning medals on every day of competition at a World Transplant Games.

"Equally, this year’s team built on our reputation for a sense of fair play and support for all. Our athletes are truly inspirational as they show others affected by organ failure what can be achieved post-transplant.

"I would like to think that the public will also have been inspired by our athletes as they have shown the life transforming impact of saying 'yes' to organ donation and making sure that family know your wishes."

Transplant Team Ireland after the World Transplant Games in Malaga.

Four members from the current team - Dubliners Deirdre Faul, Peter Heffernan, Kieran Murray from Donegal and Tony Gartland, Carlow - took part in the previous World Transplant Games in Argentina in 2015 and between them, with a much smaller team, they won 13 medals including seven Gold, four Silver and two Bronze.

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