No holding back for Heilie

Yoliswa Sobuwa

EASTERN Cape athlete Heilie Uys was named the outstanding female athlete at the World Transplant Games held in Durban.

The 64-year-old kidney transplant recipient from St Francis Bay was one of about 1800 athletes from more than 50 countries participating in the games that ended at the weekend.

Uys won gold in golf and was awarded the best female golfer title, and gold for shot put. She also broke the games’ javelin, discus, shot put and ball-throw records in the 60-69 age division.

The South African team captain, who underwent her transplant in 2004, said it was a defining moment in her life.

“I have always been a sports person and the donor gave me a second chance to do what I love doing. I felt very humbled to be part of the games as we were competing against 50 countries.

“I am always in training, every day. I started participating in these games in 2005 and they happen every second year.

“Last year, we had national games so that we could qualify to be in the World Transplant Games,” Uys said.

The games, the biggest donor awareness campaign in the world, aim to offer hope to those awaiting transplants and encourage the public to become donors by showing the difference that organ transplants can make in the lives of young and old people alike.

Competitors had to be transplant recipients of either solid organs or bone marrow to compete.

Transplant Games Federation president Olivier Coustere said: “The South African event rates as one of the best in the history of the games, which have been running every second year since 1978.”

The UK’s Liam Barnett was named the top male athlete.

Team South Africa finished third behind Great Britain and Northern Ireland with 37 gold, 32 silver and 27 bronze medals.

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