The British Transplant Games

How do you cope with a seething mass of bodies scrambling to get through the doors into the Coventry city leisure centre? Normally, quite well? But what if you realise that 75% or more of that seething mass have had a transplant? If you are anything like me, you feel humbled.

British Transplant Games 2009 Swimmers Arrive

British Transplant Games 2009 Swimmers Arrive

Where have we been? Not on holiday, unless you count the weekend first weekend in August when we were in Coventry – well, Warwick University –  venue for the 2009 British Transplant Games. This was our first Transplant Games, and I have no doubt it will be the first in a long line that will include the World Transplant Games in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2011.

Competitors in The Games are all transplantees: from kidney, to heart, to bone marrow and everything else. It’s the only sporting event where you get banned if you’re NOT on steroids.

When it comes to the Olympic Games, does anyone really believe “it’s the taking part that counts”? The drug cheats, the vast budgets, the coca-cola-isation of the Olympian ideal have, for many, taken the shine off the medals. At the Transplant Games, that maxim is real for people; taking part means you’ve already won, and in a most cases, you’ve cheated death.

Still, there are medals to be won in swimming, cycling, and track and field. There is an adult games and there are the children’s games. There is much partying and it finishes with the Gala Dinner.

Over the next few days, we’ll bring you a taste of the whole event, from the loneliness of the short distance swimmer, to the poignancy of the under fives 20m sprint, and how you can feel normal and incredibly special at the same time.

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