Going ‘fore’ gold

John McAleer
John McAleer

JORDANSTOWN man John McAleer will be hoping to swing another gold medal at this year’s European Transplant and Dialysis Games in Croatia.

At 74, John is the oldest member of the Irish team which he joined in Dublin on Friday to fly out to the games in Zagreb.

The former university lecturer competed in the 2010 games in Dublin and came away with a gold medal in the golf.

This year, he will be in action in both the golf and bowling competitions of the Games which opened on Saturday.

For over four years John received dialysis at the Belfast City Hospital Renal Unit and now receives haemo-dialysis at home.

Speaking to the Times from Zagreb, father-of-three John said: “The country is magnificent and the people have been so friendly to us since we have arrived.

“I am feeling good about the competition, I had a practice day and the course was very tough, so I am hoping to play well.”

He added: “It is a challenge for me because of the heat, it is 100 degrees and the ground is rock-solid – nothing like the lush conditions I am used to at Cliftonville, where I play regularly.

“After the Dublin games I really enjoyed myself and winning gold was tremendous, so when the opportunity came to go again, I jumped at it.

“Meeting up with people that are going through the same treatment is a real comfort. It shows that you don’t have to just accept it.”

John will be competing in the golf and the bowling competition in the games, which close on Saturday, later this week.

The Transplant and Dialysis Games are in their seventh year. Every athlete at the games will either have already received a kidney, liver, heart, lung, pancreas or bone marrow transplant or be on dialysis.

Renowned transplant surgeon, Dr David Hickey said: “The goal of successful organ transplantation is not only to save lives, but also to enable the complete physical, social, mental and spiritual rehabilitation of people with organ failure.

“The success of this aspiration is gloriously seen in this group of heroic warriors who will represent themselves, their donors and Ireland at the Transplant and Dialysis Games. They are true Corinthians.”