'It's just unbelievable' - Irish pick up two medal at transplant games
The Irish have won four medals so far this weekend at the British Transplant Games in Newcastle.
Mike Keohane from Clonakilty, Co Cork, won a gold medal in the 5km Race Walk event this afternoon and Peter Heffernan, from Skerries, Co Dublin, secured a bronze in the 50m backstroke event.
Yesterday James Nolan (49), from Kilcullen, Co Kildare, won a silver medal in golf at the games, which are hosting 800 athletes from countries all over the world.
Tony Byrne, from Artane, Co Dublin, also picked up a bronze medal in 10-pin bowling at the games.
There are nine Irish athletes in total competing at the annual games, including 12 year old Jack O’Brien, who received a kidney from his mother Cassandra when he was just two.
Mr Nolan, who is also a prize winning butcher, received a kidney transplant 28 years ago from his sister Catherine and has won as much as 50 medals in kidney sport throughout the years.
He has also raised over €1,000,000 for kidney research through his charity the Punchestown Kidney Research Fund.
Speaking to Independent.ie, Mr Nolan said he was delighted with the medal and the event itself:
“It was lovely to be able to pick up the phone and ring my sister and say that without what she did for me I wouldn’t be here.
“That is what the games are about - the medals are your own personal award for having a good day, but overall it’s all about promoting and celebrating life.
“Particularly those of us who are lucky enough to be given a second chance to live life through transplantation.
“Yesterday I played with a man who had had two heart transplants and another man who had two kidney transplants - it was incredible,” he said.
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Mr Nolan, who normally competes in athletics, had a hip replacement operation earlier in the year and decided to compete in the golf, as he couldn’t run.
“I hadn’t played golf in a year, and the finish up second is just unbelievable,” he said.
The British Transplant Games have been running annually for almost 40 years. They finish up tomorrow with Track and Field events, with a number of Irish competing.
“I expect the Irish will have a very good day tomorrow,” said Mr Nolan.
The Irish team are supported by the Irish Kidney Association.