TIRED and happy, Kilcullen man James Nolan returned home from the European Transplant Games in Krakow with two bronze and a silver medal.
The 47-year-old is a veteran to transplant sport and has competed in various European and World Transplant competitions since receiving his kidney transplant from his sister Catherine 27 years ago. The multi-award winning butcher who has raised in excess of €1.3million for kidney research was delighted with his success at the Games.
“It’s wonderful to be out here at the Games,” said James at the event.
“There is a great atmosphere and it’s wonderfully organised. I am delighted with my achievement today in my first ever summer biathlon event. The Poles dominated and I was sandwiched with four of them in front and four behind me during the race.
“It was lovely to phone my sister Catherine after to give her the good news as if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be here. I’m also very grateful to Tommy O’Brien from the Harbour House Gun Club and my athletics coach Kevin Walker for training me for the Games. I got off to a good start at the Games. I am delighted that my wife Emma and baby son Andrew James arrived in Krakow today and will be there to support me in my events.”
Transplant Team Ireland won a total of 18 gold, 18 silver and 31 bronze medals and was ranked in the top three positions on the medals table, just behind Hungary which took first place and the host country Poland in second. The team received a rapturous welcome home at Dublin airport from family and supporters festooned with flags and banners.
Every athlete at the Games had either received a kidney, liver, heart, lung, pancreas or bone marrow transplant or are on dialysis. There are 34 members of Transplant Team Ireland competing in the European event and they range in age from 16 to 76.
Athletes competed in badminton, tennis, cycling, darts, golf, petanque, swimming, table tennis, ten pin bowling, tennis, volleyball, mini-marathon, track and field and for the first time this year a biathlon event.
At the previous European Games which were held in Zagreb, Croatia in 2012, with a smaller team of 26, Ireland was placed in third position on the medals table after France and Slovenia out of 28 participating countries after securing an impressive medals haul of 14 Gold, 15 Silver and 21 Bronze.
The Irish Kidney Association is responsible for the coordination and organisation of Transplant Team Ireland’s participation in the European Transplant and Dialysis Sports Championships.