Ireland was pipped for top position by Hungary in the medals table at the 6th European Transplant & Dialysis Games which finished in Dublin at the weekend.
The games took place at various locations around Dublin; Morton Stadium in Santry was home for the athletics event and the National Aquatic Centre housed the swimming event.
With its best performance ever, Ireland secured the largest haul of medals overall at the Games with an impressive 116 medals including 40 gold, 35 silver and 41 bronze.
But the table is decided on gold medals, and Hungary finished in the top slot with 45 gold, 31 silver, and 33 bronze, making a total of 109 medals. Germany were third with 37 gold medals.
Good weather prevailed and large crowds attended this historic event which was held in Ireland for the first time ever. It is the largest organ donor awareness event to take place in Europe this year. The unique Games brought over 350 brave athletes from 24 European countries together to celebrate the ‘gift of life’.
The biennial event was hailed as an outstanding success both on an off the sporting field as all those taking part were united in sharing a common and poignant bond. They all had suffered organ failure and many were embracing a second chance at life, while honouring their organ donors through sport.Wonderful, heart-wrenching stories emerged throughout the week with athletes overcoming huge health hurdles to take part.
Ireland team captain, Mike Dwyer said: “We are very pleased to have retained our position in the top three on the medals table against the unstoppable Hungary and Germany.“We finished third at the previous European Games in Wuzburg, Germany, in 2008. However, it’s not just about winning medals here - every athlete taking part is a winner.
“We were proud to be able to participate on home soil this year and demonstrate to our European friends the warm hospitality for which our country is renowned, and we are confident they will have fond memories of their time in Ireland”.
“There is a huge sense of comradeship throughout the Games and we look forward to renewing friendships when we travel to Zagreb, Croatia, when it hosts the 7th European Games in 2012.” said Colin White, Chairman of the Games Organising Committee: “We were delighted to play host to this historic event, which took over two years planning. It was a major logistical undertaking, particularly as we had athletes who required dialysis while they are here in Dublin.
“The Games success can be attributed to the support of national governing bodies, our sponsors, to staff and members of the Irish Kidney Association for their organisation and fundraising for the games, and the selfless work of so many dedicated volunteers. We hope the legacy of these Games will reinforce the importance of organ donation and the significant role that sport plays, both psychologically and physically, in maintaining a healthy lifestyle”.
Athletes who took part in the Games have received a transplant of one, or a combination, of the following: kidney, liver, heart, pancreas, lungs, and bone marrow, or else are receiving dialysis treatment.
The competing countries were Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
Athletics legend Eamonn Coghlan paid tribute to the athletes. “Everyone is a winner in these Games,” he told the Irish team, when he met them for a motivational talk last month. He added: “You have all fought huge personal battles to just get to the starting-line for these Games. You have displayed not only your love of sport, but your love of life, and you are an inspiration to all of us.”
Ireland pipped in medals table by Hungary at 6th European Transplant & Dialysis Games
(pictured above) John Moran, John Loftus, Emma O'Sullivan, Julie Muir ; Stadium Supervisor, Regina Hennelly
For details on all results of the European Transplant & Dialysis Games please click here.