The swimming team has enjoyed great success at previous Transplant Games events, and once again at the multi-sport European Transplant & Dialysis Sports Championships in Vantaa today, they didn’t disappoint. Three of the more seasoned members of the team, Dubliners Deirdre Faul and Peter Heffernan, along with Tipperary’s Orla Hogan, almost swept the decks in all their events and newcomer to the team, Noel Marsden, came third in his swimming event.
The Irish swimming team bagged 6 Gold, 5 Silver and 2 bronze medals. At another venue in Vantaa, other members of the 28 strong team secured 5 bronze medals in Badminton events.
First to win a bronze medal in Badminton this morning for the team was Kilkenny native Richard McEvoy and then later in the day, Richard and his Badminton doubles teammate, Mike Keohane, from Roscarbery, Cork came faced tough competition for third place and were rewarded with two more bronze medals. Then doubles team Ned Crowe from Carrick-on Suir, Tipperary and Team Captain Harry Ward from Baldoyle, Dublin came third in their older age category event securing a Bronze medal each.
At the swimming events today Peter Heffernan, a long standing member of Transplant Team Ireland, from Skerries, Dublin won a spectacular 5 medals, incl. 2 Gold, 2 Silver and 1 Bronze. Peter, a kidney transplant recipient, won a Gold medal in 50m backstroke, a Gold in the 400m freestyle event, a Silver in the 100m back stroke and Silver in the 50m freestyle and a Bronze in 100m freestyle.
Exhausted but delighted after his events Peter Heffernan said, “I am always conscious of my donor at a time like this. The events are very well organised and I’m making a lot of new friendships. It is brilliant to here with our wonderful team and I’m delighted we did so well at swimming.”
The unstoppable Deirdre Faul, a liver transplant recipient, from Dalkey, Dublin has always been a medals winner at European and World Transplant events. Today, like her teammate Peter Heffernan, she swept the decks in her five sporting events winning 4 Gold and 1 Silver. She won a Gold in the 100m freestyle swimming event, a Gold in the 50m breast stroke, a Silver medal in the 100m breast stroke, and a Gold in the 50m freestyle. After all these successes she went on to compete in the 400m freestyle event where she also won a Gold.
Deirdre said after her multi-medals win, “This is my best European Games ever. Our swim team are performing exceptionally well this year. All of the time training has been worth it. The swim team have a ‘Yes we can’ attitude. We are all participating to promote organ donation.”
A Bronze medal was won by dialysis athlete Noel Marsden from Athlone in the 50m breast stroke event. The newcomer to Transplant Team Ireland said, “I’m delighted with the bronze and am really enjoying my first Games experience. My medal was unexpected and I’m absolutely delighted with it”.
Orla Hogan, a kidney transplant recipient from Nenagh, Co Tipperary won two silver medals for the 50m freestyle swimming event as well as the 50m breast stroke. Orla said “I went out to do my best today and I am thrilled with the achievement. I’ve been practicing three times a week with my mam. The team has a great bond and we are all routing for each-other and trying to help promote organ donor awareness.”
Newcomer to the team Richard McEvoy, a native of Kilkenny (and now living in Limerick) won a Bronze medal in Badminton singles event earlier today. This was the dialysis athlete’s second Bronze medal at the games having won one for Darts on Monday. Richard, a University of Limerick graduate and Engineer, said “I really enjoyed the matches. They were extremely competitive with strong opponents. I’m enjoying the games experience immensely. There is a real sense of family and everyone is very welcoming and friendly.”
In speaking about his success in the doubles badminton matches with Richard, liver transplant recipient Mike Keohane from Roscarbery said, “we were beaten in the semi-final by Hungary with a score of 19-17 in the final game. I was a little disappointed not to get to the final. It was very close and Richard and I fought very hard. Today was my first day for me to compete and I have more events to take part in later in the week and it’s onwards and upwards for me. I am enjoying the Games experience.”
Duo Harry Ward from Baldoyle and Ned Crowe from Carrick-on-suir, both kidney transplant recipients, were delighted with their bronze medals for Badminton.
Harry, the Team Captain said, to win the Bronze with Ned in badminton is great. It was well fought with strong competition and we did our very best but most of all we enjoyed it. This week I celebrate the 9th anniversary of my kidney transplant. It’s thanks to my kidney donor I am here in Vantaa enjoying the games”.
Ned Crowe, who underwent a living donor kidney transplant from his donor wife Deirdre in 2008, said after his win, “I’m absolutely delighted to have won a bronze. We have a great team here at the Games and I’m enjoying meeting old friends from other countries and making new ones. It’s great to have my donor wife Deirdre here supporting me and to me surrounded by my extended family, Transplant Team Ireland.”