THIRTY-THREE Irish athletes returned home yesterday with a cache of 36 medals and a new world record.
The triumphant Transplant Team arrived back into Dublin from Sweden, which hosted the 18th World Transplant Games, to rapturous applause from families and supporters, including former Dublin footballer and transplant surgeon David Hickey.
The biggest-ever Irish transplant team, ranging in age from nine to over 70, won 12 gold, 12 silver and 12 bronze medals in the games, competing against teams from 54 countries.
John Moran (52), a kidney transplant recipient from Glasnevin, Dublin, had the biggest medal haul, having won two gold and three silver medals in cycling and track events.
Robbie Lyons (17), from The Swan, Co Laois, smashed the world record in the 15-17 age category of the long jump, with a 5.30-metre leap that destroyed the previous record of 4.78m.
He arrived home proudly bearing a gold and two silver medals.
Tony Gartland, a liver transplant recipient from Hacketstown, Co Carlow, won a silver medal for the 5km race walk and a bronze for the 5km mini-marathon.
Describing the games, team manager Colin White said: "It was fantastic to have four juniors on our team for the first time in many years. I look back over the week with a great sense of pride. The spirit throughout the team was overwhelming.
"The Irish team members showed amazing support to one another but also to their competitors," he said.
Mr White said he was looking forward to expanding the team for the next transplant games in Durban, South Africa in 2013.
The Irish team members had all received major organ transplants at least a year ago.
The Irish Kidney Association was responsible for managing Transplant Team Ireland's participation at the Games.