Transplant Games medal winners welcomed in Dublin
Airport greetings after four athletes take 13 medals at World Transplant Games in Argentina
Athletes and transplant recipients Tony Gartland, Peter Heffernan, Kieran Murray and Deirdre Faul, who between them won 13 medals at the World Transport Games in Argentina, with team manager Colin White in Dublin airport on Monday night.
A rapturous welcome awaited four Irish athletes at Dublin airport on Monday night as they were reunited with family and friends following their success in the World Transport Games.
The athletes - Dubliners Deirdre Faul and Peter Heffernan, Kieran Murray from Ramelton, Co Donegal and Tony Gartland from Hacketstown, Co Carlow - secured 13 medals between them at the 20th World Transplant Games in Argentina.
Mr Murray, who took home two gold medals and a bronze having undergone a kidney transplant in May 2013, said he had trained three days a week for the past 18 months to compete in the games.
He described it as an “absolutely fantastic” experience, adding that donors were never far from the athletes’ minds.
“You’re always thinking about your donor. When you get up in the morning you’re thinking about your donor who gave you the opportunity to compete…winning is a bonus more than anything,” he added.
“Win or lose it doesn’t matter - it’s a celebration of life.”
He was greeted at the airport by his wife Olivia, daughters Chloe (5), Grace (2), Sophie (nine weeks) and extended family.
The Irish team manager and newly elected treasurer of the World Transplant Games Federation, Colin White, described the athletes’ medal haul as a “stunning” achievement for such small team.
Between them the four athletes brought home seven gold, four silver and two bronze medals, which placed Ireland in 15th place of 44 countries in the medals table.
Mr White described the games and the athletes as “humbling and inspiring”.
“The spirit of our team this week has embodied everything that is good in transplant sport…When you see the appreciation for life, one can’t but be inspired to make a commitment to make a difference and carry an organ donor card,” he said.
He said he was hopeful that a larger Irish team would compete in the next World Transplant Games which will be held in 2017 in Malaga, Spain.