British Transplant Games 28th – 31st July 2016
Bristol bring home the medals – Report by team member Ella Gibson
This year’s British Transplant Games saw 23 of Bristol’s finest transplant athletes compete in a range of activities from athletics and swimming to badminton and ten-pin bowling in a fantastic weekend of sport.
The host city, Liverpool, offered great facilities and a friendly and exciting atmosphere; even the sun managed to shine for the best part of the four day event.
As always, the Games started with the long-established athlete’sparade, this year through the spectacular Albert Docks, followed by the Opening Ceremony at Liverpool’s Arena Convention Centre. The ceremony showcased an impressive gymnastics display and talent in the form of singers Leaf Petrides (double lung transplantee) and Jack Collins. As well as this, competitors heard inspiring speeches from the city’s own Councillor Wendy Simon and former GB Gymnast, Beth Tweddle.
Team Bristol welcomed six fresh faces to the team this year with Lucy Young, Archie Wing and Ellen Russ all graduating from the Children’s team as well as Christine Hackeney, Ella Gibson and Richard Percival competing in the Games for the very first time.
The whole team performed exceptionally wellwith most competitors winning at least one medal bringing the overall medal count to 59 (21 gold, 19 silver, 19 bronze), an incredible 19 more medals than last year.
A full list of medal winners is available on the British Transplant Games website but there were plenty of highlights throughout the weekend. Matt Cave achieved Best Senior Male for the second year running taking home the trophy as well as his 5 gold medals in the 100m, 200m, 400m, Javelin and Ball Throw. It was also a first for Lucy Bowskill who was awarded an honorary entertainment medal from Leeds Adults for throwing the ball backwards in the Ball Throw event!
Despite not being familiar with proceedings, this didn’t stop the three new members putting in awesome performances to gain medals as well. Richard Percival, who travelled to Liverpool for just one race, swam a great time to achieve silver in the 50m swim and Christine Hakeney won 3 medals on the athletics track. Ella Gibson also managed to secure 5 medals including the first cycling gold for Bristol in over 10 years as well as storm ahead to win the 800m by over 45 seconds.
Competitors and supporters alike finally managed to change out of their sports’ clothes and into their evening wear to celebrate the many wonderful sporting and personal successes from the weekend and enjoy music from the Cheetles at the Gala Dinner.
Huge thanks are owed to both Bristol Area Kidney Patient Association for subsidising athletes’ attendance at the Games and Catherine Hall, team manager, who has been organising and leading the team since 2009.
Catherine said, ‘it’s been an excellent games, once again’; she has high hopes for topping the medal table next year after Bristol have been placed second and third overall for the past few years!
This year, the Game’s objective was to increase the number of people who openly talk about organ donation with their family and friends and sign up to the register. They want to reduce the anxiety attached to the decision and let people make their intentions towards donation clear. Hence they encouraged athletes and supporters to tweet about the Games using the hashtag ‘#donationconversation’.
Team Bristol are now hopeful for some of its members to be selected to represent Team Great Britain in the 2017 Malaga World Transplant Games as well as looking forward to the British Games in North Lanarkshire next year.