Five Eastern Cape athletes will look to celebrate life and good health at the 21st edition of the World Transplant Games, starting in Malaga, Spain, on Sunday.
Susan Burri (Port Elizabeth, table tennis, 3km walk and 5km road race), Heilie Uys (Cape St Francis, golf, discus, shot put, javelin and ball throw), Dean Arnolds (Port Elizabeth, 400m), Mphumi Damane (Port Elizabeth, 400m), Robyn Emslie (East London, petanque) will all test their mettle against foreign opposition next week.
The games will feature about 2 400 athletes from around the world who have had organ transplants. All five Eastern Cape athletes have had kidney transplants. They all qualified through the Eastern Cape’s Transplant Sports Association last year and were recently awarded their Proteas colours.
Coach Johann van Greunen said: “They have been training hard since last year and have shown a lot of determination.
“We are, however, mindful not to train too hard because their kidneys could take some strain in the process.”
“They have been placed on good training and nutrition programmes that we hope will bring the results we need.” Sprinter Damane, 31, said: “We are excited to be able to compete and show that we deserve to be there.”
Burri, 50, has participated in the Comrades and Two Oceans marathons. She fell ill in 2013 and was fortunate enough to receive a kidney from her brother. She got back to road running in 2014 as a means of recovering and trying to keep up a healthy lifestyle.
“We are grateful for the second chance in life we have been afforded by our donors,” she said. “We just want to celebrate our lives and raise awareness of organ donation and show people that it can save lives.”
Excited 19-year-old Arnolds said: “We are very conscious of keeping ourselves healthy and not overworking our kidneys.
“The downside is that we cannot play contact sport.”
Qualifying for the games is open to people from four years old through to 80. There are more than 50 events for all capabilities, including athletics, tenpin bowling, swimming, racket spor ts, golf, volleyball and cycling.