An inspirational transplant athlete from Derbyshire, who overcame serious illness, has returned after competing in the European Transplant Sport Championships in Finland.
Simon Elmore, who lives in Belper, had a kidney transplant 18 months ago, but is now living life to the full, representing Team Great Britain (GB) at numerous sporting events.
To add to the medals he previously won at the world championships in Argentina, in Helsinki Simon won two golds in tenpin bowling, a silver in darts and a bronze in floorball.
And Simon will be eyeing more medal success at the British Transplant Games, which start later this week.
He said: “I am delighted with my performance in darts, table tennis, floorball and tenpin bowling and to be able to bring home the medals in memory of my donor and their family.”
“This time one of the things I have really enjoyed is helping others to get medals - I’m chuffed to bits for them.
“I try to do different sports every time I compete - I will have a go at anything.
“Because it was only a demonstration sport this time, floorball wasn’t just national teams so I was playing with two other Brits, five Germans and a Belgian, against a team of Finns and Swedes.
“It is actually a Scandanavian sport so they were very competitive, but we held our own I think.
“I would urge anybody just to give everything a try and see how it goes.”
As well as competing in international events, Simon also takes part in awareness-raising football games with sporting stars like Andy Todd and Christian Malcolm or figures from the world of entertainment like the cast of Hollyoaks.
“We are trying to get the message out there about what people who have had transplants can do,” says Simon.
The football games have even led to a desire to set up a British transplant team - something long thought impossible because of the contact element of the sport.
Simon is full of praise for those back home who have helped him on his way to glory - not least the owners of the Jaxx snooker hall where he practised his darts technique.
“If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have had anywhere to practice - I can’t say enough about what they did for me,” says Simon.
“The silver at darts was my first medal and it set the whole tone for the week.”
Euro transplant games success
Team Great Britain won a total of 63 medals and joined competitors from 25 countries across Europe to compete in this year’s European Transplant Sport Championships.
The athletes competed over a week of sporting events which included track and field athletics, cycling, swimming, golf, and tennis.
Lynne Holt, from the charity Transplant Sport (TSUK) which backs Team Great Britain, said: “Our transplant athletes are the best in the world, running the 100m in 11.6 seconds and swimming 50m Freestyle in 26 seconds.
“Many of our transplant athletes have experienced near death situations and long illness, and it is very gratifying to see them able to enjoy a full life, thanks to organ donation.
“Hopefully this international event will encourage others to sign on to the Organ Donor Register, but most importantly, discuss their donation wishes with their families now.”