GLL Sport Foundation (GSF) supported transplant swimmers had huge success at the recent World Transplant Games. Liam Barnett, Janka Penther and Simon Randerson all competed for the GB swimming team and all came back with bags of medals and lifetime best swimming times.
The World Transplant Games are held every two years and move from country to country, this year the Games were held in Newcastle Gateshead. The Games are effectively the Olympics for athletes who have had a lifesaving organ and bone marrow transplants. Other sports at the Games include football, volleyball, basketball, cycling, racquet sports and track and field. Every two years the level of competition gets tougher and tougher, for example this year’s winning 100m track was won in 11.3 seconds.
Cambridge based GLL sponsored athlete Liam Barnett won 5 golds and 2 silvers and set 4 new Transplant World Records. Liam, who had a liver transplant 8 years ago dominated the freestyle events at the Games, setting new transplant World Records in the 30-39 age 50m (24.73), 100m (54.74) and 200m freestyle (2:04.61). Liam also claimed two silver medals in the 50m butterfly and the 50m breaststroke. Liam says “I am very happy with my swims. The competition at the world transplant games gets harder every time, I was pushed hard by my fellow competitors and I had to do lifetime best times to get these medals!”
Liam also picked up two golds as part of the open 4x50m medley and 4x50m freestyle relay teams. The freestyle relay was particularly close, with Liam anchoring the British team to victory over the second-place American team by little over a second, recording a new transplant World Record time of 1:46.88.
Oxfordshire athlete Janka Penther had an incredible Games. She won two silvers, in the 30-39 50m butterfly and the 200m individual medley. Janka also helped the women’s GB freestyle and medley relay B teams to bronze medals.
Lambeth swimmer Simon Randerson added to the GLL athlete tally, winning 4 silvers in the 200 and 400m freestyle and the 50 and 100m backstroke, as well as bronze in the 100m freestyle in the 60-69 age group. Simon was also part of team GB’s mixed combined age of 200+ 4×50 freestyle which won bronze behind strong American and Australian teams.
All three swimmers routinely use their local GLL facilities as part of their training for the transplant games. Liam Barnett says “We are all incredibly privileged and grateful to be part of the GLL Sport Foundation. It has been so useful for us to have access the top-class facilities, sport services and advice on offer from GLL. It’s so important for us to keep fit and healthy after transplant but also to be able to push ourselves to show what is possible in life after transplantation. Thank you GLL for supporting us”.
The Great Britain and Northern Ireland transplant swimming team made the most of their home advantage, amassing 56 gold, 50 silver and 35 bronze medals, more than any other team. The team is made up of swimmers of all ages and backgrounds, from all over the UK, but all have one thing in common – all have had lifesaving organ or bone marrow transplants. These GB swimmers have been lucky as they received their transplant in time, right now there are over 6,000 people waiting for an organ transplant across the UK. On average three people die every day in need of an organ transplant because there just aren’t enough organ donors, so it is important to make your organ donation decision and make it known. For more information about organ donation visit: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/
Also a big well done to the following GSF athletes who were also in attendance and brought home some big wins; Michelle Mitchell, Stephen Jarvis, Darren Smith, Moray Laing and Tracey Griffiths.