ROYTON Road Runner Stewart Jones is celebrating after earning selection to Team GB and Northern Ireland’s squad for the 2019 World Transplant Games (August 17-24) to be held in Newcastle and Gateshead.
And the first person Stewart, 43, thanked after receiving the news was his dad.
When he was diagnosed with a failing kidney, Stewart only survived because his dad was able to donate one of his own kidneys, the transplant taking place in April 2008.
“I’m over the moon and so privileged to be able to represent my country,” he said.
“But I know it wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for my dad. For that I’m eternally grateful.
“I’ve run 10 marathons since 2014, three of those with my dad. We’ll be running our fourth together in the Snowdonia Marathon on October 27,” added Stewart, a manufacturing engineer.
Stewart put himself in line for selection for the largest ever squad to represent Great Britain and NI at the WTG by his performances at the 2018 British Transplant Games in Birmingham.
He competed in five running events taking the silver medal in both the 800 and 1500 metres. His 1500 metres time was also inside the qualifying time required to be considered for selection.
The GB squad numbers more than 330 transplant athletes, including 40 juniors, live donors and many more supporters.
Over 1,000 other transplant athletes from 70 countries across the globe will compete in the games – all having survived either a heart, lung, kidney, pancreas, liver, small bowel or bone marrow transplant.
A Royton Road Runners spokesman said: “No doubt Stewart will continue to include the club training nights that go out from Royton Cricket on a Monday and Thursday evening as part of his preparations for next year. Well done and good luck.”
The first competitive sporting event for transplant recipients took place in Portsmouth 40 years ago with around 99 competitors from the UK, France, Germany, Greece and the USA.
Now the summer World Transplant Games are held every two years.
In 1987 the World Transplant Games Federation was officially formed and now has nearly 70 member countries worldwide.
The Games embrace all ages, anyone from four to 80 years old who qualifies is welcome to participate.
The most recent summer Games have been hosted by Malaga, Spain, 2017, Mar Del Plata, Argentina, 2015; Durban, South Africa 2013 and Goteborg, Sweden, 2011.
There are over 50 events to suit all capabilities including athletics, tenpin bowling, swimming, racquet sports, golf, volleyball, lawn bowls and cycling.
Team Great Britain and NI squad team manager Lynne Holt said: “Not only are these athletes ambassadors for organ donation, but they are also representing the charity, Transplant Sport.
“They hope to raise more awareness here in the UK and globally, of the need for more people to sign on to the organ donor register and discuss their wishes with family and friends.”