Well here I am (above) and the ultimate photo to express five years since my double-lung transplant and perservance with my training. The build up to arriving early in Sweden was a night of no sleep and buzzing with nerves/all sorts of emotions...and like 'wow' it's really happening!
These are my first world games and it is really difficult to summarise all the feelings from the overall trip...but tears, smiles, laughter, happiness, nerves, new friends, more tears, hugs, love, support, energy, electric atmosphere......so read on and hear all about it.
Transplantation is not possible unless we get a prescious gift like from the gorgeous Tiarka Marie Hampton. I became friends with her mother, Sandra who I was in contact with prior to the games and I will talk more about Tiarka and Sandra later in my blog.
All was going good until arriving at the hotel, and they had my parents registered but not me until two days later!! It's a long story of mixed communication from hotel and travel company and errors made, but it got sorted in the end. I said unless you want me to sleep in the Reception....lol. Not the start I imagined and a little on-edge, tried to re-focus and enjoy the times ahead.
We all finally got to eat a meal about 9.30/10pm with Kaylee who also had arrived early and then bedtime it was. I have to say, that I never slept most nights (an on-going issue post transplant) but, after competing in my sports (from the competitions) I slept like a ton weight - Bliss.
Woohoooo!!! Excited for today as prior to coming to Sweden I posted on Facebook anyone arriving early and would like to meet to message me. So, here I was going to meet people from USA, South Africa, Canada, Sweden, Australia for the first time! I have been friends with lots people across the globe for many years and as UK has a selection process for the World Games I haven't been able to meet my friends until now. Lots of messages, texts and finalising plans and here we all are enjoying burgers at the Hard Rock Cafe (means to say salads and protein for us athletes ;)
On left side: Marie, me, Holly, Jen, Alice and Chris. On right side: Jenny, Kim, Sandra, Jas, Kaylee.
Sweden welcomes:- Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bhutan, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Ghana, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States and Uruguay! Over 50 countries competing in this year's world games. With over 1,800 transplantee athletes.
Even though we all stayed across Gothenberg in different hotels, all lunch and evening meals were in one room. And here are all the nations in one room eating and a great way to make new friends whilst tucking into swedish food.
The games officially started the next day, but later this evening there was a UK party with a British theme. So...let's get the party started...woop woop woohoo!!
Here I am with friends Sandra (from Canada, who I stayed with on holiday there last year), and also Scotty and Luke two Australian hotties (I'm sure they won't object to that term).
The real winner tonight was Dino as Captain Britain - awesome outfit.....off off and away!!
It was a great evening and good to meet more of Team GB and celebrate our 1st night togther.
Today is the main day for the opening parade whereby all countries parade through the streets of Gothenburg, raising awareness that we are here thanks to our transplants! The weather started off blissfully sunny and I went round taking photos as you will see below. Just aswell, as then the heavens opened and it rained and rained...ponchos on, umbrellas up and lets get this parade started! I have been to opening parades before for both the UK & European Heart/Lung Transplant Games..but nothing prepared me for the scale of people/atmsophere for over 50 countries...wow!
Also a frenzy of exchanging pins happened to each other from various countries, and my denim jacket now is mostly of worldwide pins than a jacket. It was a great way also to get chatting to people and what a unique buzz. Amazing!!
Some of us UK athletes from left, Andy. Craig, Joe, Sarah and me.
The one and only chap from Tunisia.
The team manager from Sudan
I already knew some of the Norwegian team and other transplantees from Europe from last years European heart/lung games, so it was good to see these friends again.
Tadaa!! I really love this photo (below) as for me it really embodies the world games and meeting people from so many countries/cultures. This would never have happened without my transplant and training. So happy to be here and be alive :)
Guess you can see, that I was really getting into the vibe today - and even when the rain came down......smiles and cheers as we walked through Gothenburg. And a happy Maggie caught me taking a photo.
Then we all walked into a closed arena whereby each country grouped together and supporters (above arena). Music was played as we all entered in alphabetical order country by country. I couldnt help but dance my way through and cheer...WOW...electrifying and buzzing atmosphere.
Once everyone was in.....a stage show commenced of dance acts, speeches (quite emotional words) and a special band singing.......Captain Captain Captain of the ship.........urm.......this song will stay with me and some say when I do my sailing venture next year, I will be captain of the ship...lol, as if! Although, it was really wierd to watch, two long haired guitarists and an opera style singer with long blonde hair...with a young chorus of men/women in navy uniform - bizarre! Followed by a solo of the guitarist saying a 'short piece' that went on for ages!! After his emotional start and somewhat lovemaking to his guitar...it was actually truly amazing.
If you would like to hear the tune I found this link on You Tube......
Captain of the Ship You Tube video
Today was badminton training and I'm glad I went to practice and check the venue - as after 2 hills and 2 steep staircases to get there..I nearly never made it! I was actually outa puff doing this and became quite breathless...not a good start. Eventually, I was informed that when I compete a taxi would be available for me and a few others with other issues doing this challenging trek. And, I was sooooo relieved to hear this and very grateful...phew...
After 2 hours being there and getting some practice in - I was well and truly shattered. I also had the best night sleep since arriving. I tend only to sleep when I'm completely exhausted...oh well...more exercise for me then ;)
The evenings found me crashing early about 10-10.30 pm so felt fresh and re-vitalised ready to compete. I intended to save a 'late' night until all my sporting events were over as I am a party girl at heart. Most of the socialising was actually where I staying along with the rest of Team GB. Here I am with Tashi from Bhutang (far right) and then a chap from Nepal (with hat) and another athlete from Iran.
Here it is.....competition day!! Eek!!! It seemed ages away from when first recieved my letter of selection months and months to wait, and now here I am about to start my 1st event, that of Squash. Feeling slightly nervous and apprenhensive and a long coach ride to get to venue.
Time to get my Grrrrrr on......well actually I wouldn't hurt a fly but wanted to get psyched up!
And here I am with my parents - love you :)
I tell ya, I played many games and the ones played with Claire nearly saw the end of me. Truly exhausted, breathless, and neither of us scoring any points for ages. Was a case of 0-0 and we both looked at each other and I'm sure I can vouch for Claire...we were both like....oh boy this is guna be a longggggggggggggg game!!! And it was!! Smiling at the end of the match...but it was a close call for ages, but Clare nipped me to that silver......well done Claire
And to proove squash was exhausting, here I am with another competitor, Irene (from Australia) semi -passed out on the floor..I went down, and Irene shortly joined me..lol. But, trust my Dad to capture the moment ;)
Actually, you may recall me saying at the start of my blog about, tears.....well I had a tear session after playing with Irene. I was so frustrated about getting breathless and even though I don't have full lung function I know I do all the sports that are the hardest on me (insane I know, but I enjoy them). I guess my tears were due to the fact, that I know if I had more puff I could give it more and do better. I sat on the floor trying to be discreet and no chance..lol.
Red blubber face..I gathered myself together and washed my eyes ready for next match. Game on!
Woohoo all Team GB squash champions.
Gold, Silver, and Bronze squash champs as above.
Today is the day for badminton mixed double and ladies doubles....many games....many competitors...many countries.
Oh but before I go on with the badminton, this photo (below) is from a lady Michelle who contacted me via Twitter asking if I would like to be filmed for a documentary on Organ Donation (in USA). Michelle had no problem locating me in the 'meal' room with my red hair and shortly after introductions I was being filmed.
Back to badminton again.....and here I am all happy smiles with Ian my mixed badminton partner.
The Swiss ladies gave us a good game as below with Jill as my ladies doubles partner in badminton.
Jill and I actually won bronze after competing with many various teams. Bronze a bling bling..then it was taken away..as not enough medals (however, 2 days later we got the medals)..u tease Gothenberg!!
I played some games with ladies from Iran (not pictured in this photo below). I initally sat on my own on a bench and suddenly found myself surrounded by a group of Iranians. Only one of the girls, Maryam spoke good English and she was telling me that they all were kidney transplantees except for one who is a liver transplantee. And that heart/lungs need to be done in another country. They were very sweet to me and tried to speak some English, and they also taught me some Iranian. I think they were impressed as I was able to repeat what they said quite well :)
Walking the green mile to get the bronze ;)
The badminton champs :)
This trophy was made and has everyone's names, including supporters and my Dad had just seen his and Mum's! Fab!
Well this is it, last day of events that being the 100m sprint! I have to be honest I really needed a day to rest, and was quite exhausted from squash and badminton the days before. I was still focused however and had the thinking of Grrrrr again...lol
At the track here (with Kaylee, Laura and Craig), before I was told to get into the sprint lanes ready for my heat in the 100m. If I made a qualifying time with the best of 2 heats - I would make the finals, gulp. Fingers crossed.
SOOoooooo, on your marks, get set. GO!!!!!!! See me in the red (3rd from left) really going for it with all my puff.
I couldn't believe it that I actually made the finals and here I am in 1st lane (far right) giving it more puff. But, I actually sprinted slower - due to exhaustion and lungs getting the better of me now :(
But, it was still an achievement to make the finals and in my heat I sprinted just under 18 seconds (quicker than last year) so a PB (personal best) and proud with that. In my training, prior to the games I managed to actually do the 100m in 17.4 seconds. Shame, I wasn't able to repeat that.
Here I am with Scotty, Glen, Sandra and Irene (all from Australia). The games also welcome donor families and living donors (who donated their own organs) to come along. As I mentioned earlier in my blog I have been in contact with Sandra prior to Sweden (wearing white top in photo) as a donor family. I have been touched by Sandra's story whose daughter died in a car crash and she consented for her organs to be used to save other people's lives. Sandra is a great support to those also recieving the gift of life and a real party spirit to all she meets.
I asked Sandra if she could kindly mention some words about her experience/what happened as below....
"Tiarka Marie Hampton was 7 weeks off turning 20 years old, when returning home after a work function in Perth they were involved in a 5 car pile up at 5.30 pm 5th September 2004 (Fathersday) in Australia.... Tiarka was a beautiful fun loving enjoyed life to the fullest. love sports of all kinds, socializing as young people do. after being airlifted to hospital, where I was informed that she had Brain injuries & might not come out of it. I though she was strong & if there was a chance she would come home to me & her father Peter & brothers. Kyle now 25 & Jarryd now 23. But when I first looked at her with all the injuries she received broken bones not many weren't there wasn't a mark on her face, I knew then that she wasn't coming home. with all her family & friends around we got to the donating of Organs which I had alread said to the dr about but now everyone was there & 24 or so hours later after all rest had been done. we were told what was going to happen, signed all the forms ect. So on the late evening of September 7th we gave the '"GIFT OF LIFE " to 4 people. A Man mid -late 50's from Western Australia received her HEART. A Ladymid -late 50's from Western Australia received her LIVER & a man & Lady mid - late 50's received her KIDNEYS which went over to the Eastern States of Australia. I havent had the chance to meet any of her tx but after becoming involved with Transplant Australia & attending the national & World games I do beleive it was the right thing to do. I am now involved with Transplant Australia as Donor Family Delegate & Transplant Tx Rep for the country area of Western Australia."
I am truly touched by this and the donor families are a big part of our journey...much respect to you Sandra and all other families that consent to organ donation after loosing loved ones and to living donors.
Thanks Dad for capturing this piccie with me and the trophy - beaming with my 2 bronze medals from my 1st world games!!
All my events were now over and early nights every night.....but, tonight, I thought I AM going out and will have a blast even though was still shattered.
Can you believe it - the last day...ohhhhhhhhh!! It seemed like forever for me to compete, and now it's all over except for one more day of athletics and the final gala party to say goodbye to everyone (and party hard)!! But, we needed capture Team GB before we all party :)
And once done.........hear about this, not only is it fun to exchange different country pins at the start of the games (and during) to get talking to new people across the globe. BUT..to also exchange kit. I was informed of this and thought quite bizarre and told how difficult it is to get any team kit from the Australian athletes. Secretly that was a personal mission of mine to achieve ;) Jussie on a mission.....
Most of the exchanging of kit is done on the last day at the track, like a manic market! People coming along showing their kit and trying to barter with each other. A man from Uraguay trying to exchange his team jacket..then more people trying to haggle clothing. What a buzz! I knew what I wanted a team USA top, South African top, something from a Far Eastern countries and anything from Australia!
So with that in mind...I ended up with a USA team top+tracksuit bottoms; a Hong Kong jacket+tracksuit bottoms; Iranian T-shirt; South African team top; Australian jacket/team top and Aussie hat (Crocodile Dundee style). I needed another suitcase for all this wardrobe attire! I only exchanged my jacket and 2 polo tops that came with the team kit, my squash top then my Union Jack handbag & sunglasses; red t-shirt (saying 'Go Jussie'). I also had a "I'd give you One" (re: organ donation) and gave this away to a young South African girl who also had a transplant. I became friends with her mother earlier in the week and knew it was her Birthday too, so was happy to give that and some British 'Lovehearts' sweets.
I had quite a few laughs with Robyn from South Africa as she was after a top I had (now she is wearing in the photo below). I did want the South African top - but also wanted to see if there was any other clothing I could acquire ..... But, Robyn was not going to let me go and said would change infront of people in the lunch tent to get my top! Low and behold Robyn attempted to take her top off and put mine on (I was wearing my own clothes...so didn't need strip).
And here Robyn is getting a helping hand removing her top.......I laughed so much!!
The lovely Irene that I shared a room with also at the track on the last day :)
One Union Jack handbag for a full Hong Kong team kit (and I also gave her my red Jussie T-shirt). Happy days, good bargaining. Oh, I made sure all swaps I did were of clothing that fitted me, as I will wear the kit back home. The only thing I didn't get was a bandana from Japan...so if anyone has got and doesn't mind sending to me please....woohoo!! Holla, as I would be so happy to get one of those!! xx
Hanging out with the chaps from Bhutang and Nepal again.
Lynne (the Team Manager for Team GB) and I with some of the lovely South Africans.
After the closing ceremony.....the night was only just starting and I hung out with some girls from USA, then went to a Swedish bar/club whereby loads more people joined us later from various countries. Really time to let my hair down and dance the night away. I didn't want to leave as was having so much fun and totally loving the music. I knew I had an early flight the next day...so about 3am thought best leave and be ready for my start at 7am!
Here are the last few party shots in the club....woohoo!!!!
And thats a wrap folks. Happy memories...simply breathtaking and an experience I will never forget. Also, that was my last sprinting and perhaps squash too (for the games - due to my breathlessness). However, I am going to take up new sports for next year's British Games:- discus, javelin and shot put and still keep with my badminton (that are gentler on my lovely lungs).
Time to return home to the UK, rest up and get ready for 2 weeks worth of my final sailing training for the Clipper 11-12 Race (but my leg at sea, being next year).
Much love as always xx