The World Transplant Games, which culminated in Durban on Saturday with a moving closing ceremony, was deemed a resounding success by athletes and organisers.
1800 participants from 50 countries enjoyed Durban’s sunshine in weather conditions that were warmer than the last Summer Games held in Sweden in 2011.
This is the first time that the Games have been held on African soil and the delegates were overwhelmed by the opening ceremony, featuring Zulu culture and a mass choir of 1 300 members of the public singing the official World Transplant Games song.
Several athletes are celebrating breaking World Transplant Games records, including eight South Africans: Over 50 records were broken at the two day athletic event.
Long Jump 15 – 17 Philemon Mogotsi 5.31m
Shot Put 15 – 17 Herculaas Lamprecht 9.52m
Discus Women 60 – 69 Heilie Uys 19.14m
50m Boys 9 – 11 Jacques Boshoff 8.42
Javelin Men 30 – 39 Dawid Van Den Berg 31.53m
Cricketball Women 60 – 69 Heilie Uys 29.99
Javelin Men 50 – 59 Lourens Schultz 35.01m
Javelin Men 60 – 69 Heilie Uys 18.03m
Heilie Uys of St Francis Bay won gold in golf and was nominated best lady golfer in the Games. In addition, she won gold for shotput and broke Transplant Games world records for javelin, discus and shotput. Uys, who has had a kidney transplant, has more than medals and records to her name. She is also the National Secretary for SATSA, The South African Transplant Sports Association, the Secretary of the local World Transplant Games Organising Committee.
Swedish athlete, Martha Ehlin, encapsulated the agony that most of these athletes have experienced; “When you are on the list, waiting for a donor, you are not waiting, you are fighting for your life and we are now celebrating our lives at this event in Durban.”
Ehlin, who had five transplants during a seventeen hour operation, won five gold medals in her home-town of Sweden and won gold for shotput, javelin and cricket ball in South Africa and silver in high jump. She competed in four sports at athletics and volleyball, one dedicated to each of her five organ transplants.
Howard Dell running for United States got his record that he so desperately wanted. He broke the 200m World Transplant Games, competing against the record holder Andre Lassooij from the Netherlands. Dell, whose two 100m record breaking runs on Friday (yesterday) were wind-assisted, was thrilled with his run of 25.96.
Montague Summers of Australia broke two world Transplants Games records for 800 and 1500 metres and equalled the 400metre WTG record. He has raised AUD 16 000 (approx R160 000,00) for an organ donor project to inspire transplantees to integrate in society and sport.
The next World Transplant Games will be held in Mardelplata, Argentina, in 2015.