It would seem that Great Britain is currently having a reasonably successful crack at conquering every aspect of global cycling; phenomenal Olympic success, a couple of Tour de France wins, not bad – but there are other successes that, somewhat to our shame, go rather more unsung. Meet then The GB Transplant Cycling Team, who have returned from the 19th World Transplant Games in Durban, South Africa with a table-topping haul of 19 medals: 9 Golds, 3 Silver and 7 Bronze from the Time Trial and Road Race events beating their previous best of 11 medals back in 2003.
The team of 13 riders comprised six women and seven men aged between 17 and 62 all of whom have had life supporting organ transplants of heart, kidney, liver or bone marrow and three riders, Fidelma Hodkinson, Richard Smith and Ottilie Quince won both the road race and time trial in their age categories with Smith and Quince repeating their double victories from the last world games in 2011.
Commenting on the team’s success Smith, who is also team coach and captain, said: ‘The performance of all the riders was very impressive; both our youngest and oldest riders won gold medals but pride of place must go to Ottilie. She was scheduled to have surgery to remove a tumour from her transplanted kidney a few days after her return from the games. There was a possibility she could lose her transplant, go on to dialysis and be unable to compete in the sport in which she shows so much talent. Despite this she remained focused enough to win both of her races convincingly and become the fastest female transplant cyclist in the world. Anybody looking for an athlete committed to performing at their best despite concerns and worries should look to her: she is truly inspirational. I’m please to say she has come through the surgery successfully, is recovering well and is looking forward to getting back on the bike.’
For over 30 years the World Transplant Games Federation has been staging international sporting events for transplant athletes in order to demonstrate the physical success of transplant surgery and to raise awareness of the need to increase organ donation (there are 10,000 people in the UK alone in need of a transplant…) For further information on their valuable work see wtgf.org and for full details of the GB Transplant Cycling team successes see wtg2013.com
Follow the GB Transplant Cycling Team on Twitter @GBTxCyclists