Our largest GB Team ever returned triumphant from Italy last week with a massive haul of medals 52 Golds, 51 Silver and 17 Bronze.
Louise McKellan, one of the team has written the below report.
On 10th June 2018, I set off to Newcastle Airport where I met up with team buddy Doreen Collingwood, all set to travel to European Heart & Lung Transplant Championships in Lignano, Italy. In 2016, I attended my first European Games in Vantaa, Finland and loved every minute so I was really hoping for an equally good experience.
Having arrived a day early we were able to spend a lovely morning with other GB early arrivals on the beautiful beach which was at our hotel. Later that afternoon the majority of the mighty team GB and fantastic supporters congregated for the opening parade. Parading in the glorious sunshine and you could feel the excitement for the week ahead. A few bottles of water and speeches later and team GB and the other European Countries made our way back for a night of Italian Dancers (I would say Italian Morris Dancers!), welcomed fizz and a lovely meal.
For myself Cross Country! This was 2 loops of the complex and 4k in total. This event can be run or walked but I was determined to try and run it all the way (something I find hard with arthritis in my hip). It was hot, however a lovely route with plenty of encouragement along the way and an amazing welcome at the finish line from the fabulous GB supporters. The down side was Bill Noble and camera in your face at the very point when all you want to do is vomit!! Loved this event and to my amazement received a bronze medal. As a CHD patient, running was always a no no so any time I complete a running race reminds me of the gift that enables me to do this.
More food, more beach, more making memories and chatting with rest of team!
Pool day, and after a very slow start (which we had by now accepted as Italian style!), it was none stop for GB. I amazed myself by achieving 2 pb’s which I was thrilled about. The morning concluded with GB women’s relay which is always lovely to be part of. All GB swimmers did a fantastic job and all medalled (2 golds and silver for me). Again, great supporters and as always is brilliant to be part of the swimming team.
More food, beach, Prosecco and getting to know other team members!
No events for myself but an enjoyable day supporting our brilliant GB cyclists, badminton players, and yes more taking in the sun on the beautiful beach.
Athletics Day – love this day! An early coach journey to the track and the sun again beating down hard! A fantastic atmosphere, 400m for myself and a bronze medal! I was also part of the fantastic relay team (the older slower part!) but thanks to the amazing efforts of the sprinters of the team, silver was ours! I think the most memorable race of the day was that of the 100m run by Katy Taylor-Hamilton. The passion this lovely lady ran with was inspiring and for me typified what these games are about.
On return to the village, there was time for a welcome ice cream before the lovely circle of life, an emotional, but a beautiful reminder of the reason we were all there: our amazing donors.
Further photos and concluding medal ceremonies brought the competing to an end.
Team GB certainly then scrubbed up very well and congregated with our European friends for a brilliant celebration meal. I think I speak on behalf of us all by saying a good time was had by all.
Farewells to our Team Manager David Walker followed as he handed over the reigns to the lovely Lynda Ellis who promised to start her communication in 2020 with Coooeee!
I have now been home and back to normality for 5 days and continue to be inundated with fabulous photos (usually from star photographer Bill Noble) and posts reflecting our amazing week and achievements only possible due to organ donation.
For anyone thinking about joining the GB Heart & Lung Team in Spain, 2020, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Yes, the Italians were a little disorganised at times, but this is insignificant when I think of the friends I have made (GB and other nationalities), the memories I have made, the stories of transplantation and amazing fights I have heard, the limits I have pushed myself to, thus proving what is possible after transplantation and the thoughts and thanks given to my donor for making this dream possible.
Heart Transplant (Congenital Heart Disease/Failed Fontan), October 2013.
More Photos are available at www.lignano2018-ehltc.org
and also in the Gallery Section below