Word Transplant Games 2009, Canadian Journal

From the 17th World Transplant Games

Running notes of each days activities at the games:

We have 150 participants representing Canada at these Games on the Gold Coast. The delegation consists of 45 athletes (22 Juniors and 23 Adults), 100 supporting people and 5 media crew. The media crew will be following the team throughout the Games- from the media release at Sick Kids last Tuesday until the arrival home on Aug 31. They are hoping to develop a documentary on the Games as well as other resources for the SickKids Foundation.

The majority of the team (112 members) will be leaving from various locations across Canada, meeting up in LA on Aug 18th From there, we will travel together, arriving in Brisbane at 6:10am on Aug 20th. This will give us two days to acclimatize before the Games officially begin on the 22nd. We are planning to send reports each night outlining some of the highlights from the day’s event- stay tuned for those daily reports!

Canada's Daily Reports:

Sandra Holdsworth invites you to "Team Canada - 17th World Transplant Games" on Saturday, August 22 at 10:00am. Sandra is attending the gmaes and loves to take pictures and meet with people.

Welcome to the 17th World Transplant Games, Broadbeach, Gold Coast, Australia. Over the next eight days, please join us for a daily account of Team Canada's journal of their experiences, accomplishments and enjoyment of the Games. Team Canada for the 17th World Transplant Games is comprised of heart, liver, lung, kidney and bone marrow transplant recipients, ranging in age from 8 to 74 years. They hail from Vancouver Island, all the way to Nova Scotia. These athletes are living proof of the success of organ donation and transplantation.

For many of us our journey began on August 18th, while others arrived before and after, but Team Canada is finally together and is eagerly anticipating the opening of these Games. Team Canada is housed in the beautiful condominium "Carmel-by-the-Sea" These condo units are little apartments for athletes to call home, steps away from the beach, and with a warm and welcoming staff who have gone above and beyond to ensure our stay is wonderful. Never has a "winter's" day been so warm and inviting!

The flight and transfers took approximately 26 hours for most of us, which the children seemed to handle miraculously better than the adults! We have shifted forward 14 hours (some faster than others), and are now officially living on "Australian Time". Despite our struggles to sleep on this new schedule, being awake at 4:00am has its advantages – and we have seen a few fantastic sunrises over the Gold Coast at 5:30am!

Junior Team Canada’s Saturday morning started with a wonderful sunrise yoga session on the beach. The whole team and their supporters joined Robin and Vanessa (Team SickKids physiotherapists) for 30 minutes of stretching and strengthening to prepare for the upcoming week of competition. This was followed by the official Welcome of the entire Canadian team, hosted by Rosie McHugh, Team Manager. Saturday night will see us at the opening dinner, in preparation for the opening ceremonies tomorrow.

Special Events so Far:

  • Dale Sinclair of Junior Team Canada celebrates his 12th birthday today (August 22nd)
  • RJ Brack of Team Canada is newly engaged to his beautiful fiancée, Sasha, after proposing to her at sunrise on the beach in Broadbeach.

First full day of the games and boy has it been full. The day started with breakfast at 6am, followed by the Women's 3 km run at 7:30am and the Men's 5 km run at 8:30am. We are proud to say that Canada has already earned 2 medals – Gold by Cliff Tam of Mississauga, Ontario in the Men's 5K, and Silver by Margaret Benson of North Vancouver, British Columbia in the Women's 3K. Margaret's time of 15:55 was a new personal best for her. Cliff, who is a seasoned triathlete, stated last night "I'm used to the slow, steady pace of the Iron Man...so I'm afraid for the race tomorrow...I can't handle 5 km pain!!" Obviously, he could handle it very well, and he gave all the spectators a thrill with his final sprint to the finish! Cliff is also a "SickKids graduate", as he received his liver transplant at SickKids in the early 1990's.

The excitement of the morning races was complimented by a 4 km Donate Life Beach Walk n' Talk, where teams from all over the world walked the Gold Coast to promote organ donation (along with some of the largest beach balls you've ever seen!). The Beach Walk started out at 8:30 am, with clear blue skies overhead, the ocean waves at our feet, and a balmy 27 degrees – not bad for a winter's day!

The Canadian Team created quite a spectacle as we walked through the streets of Broadbeach in a sea of red and white on our way to the Opening Ceremonies. Supporters of all nations gathered at the stadium, and excitement built as the fans awaited the start of the Opening Ceremonies and the entrance of athletes from 45 nations. The crowd erupted as a voice announced the entrance of the first country, Argentina. This was shortly followed by Team Canada, lead by flag bearer Dave Smith , who entered the arena to thunderous applause and cheers. One Australian spectator at the ceremonies was heard to say, "Is there anyone left in Canada?" For many supporters, it was overwhelming, and pride and emotion brought tears to their eyes. Even though the Opening Ceremonies were in excess of 3 hours, there were many memorable highlights; namely, Miriam – a 10 year old girl and liver recipient – who welcomed everyone to the Games and had a special message for the kids: "You may find yourself different in your school, but here you are just like everyone else".

The motivational key note address was given by Chris Klug, an Olympic snowboarder from Colorado, who inspired us all with his story of determination to succeed following his liver transplant. He promised us we would see his name at the upcoming 2010 Vancouver Olympics. The Canadians let him know how exciting that was, as the volume rose again. The evening ended with a lovely, "intimate" BBQ dinner for 2000 people.

Competition is well underway today, August 24th, on the second day of these 17th World Transplant Games in Gold Coast, Australia. The morning began in utter chaos, as the competitors and their support teams had a hasty breakfast and boarded early morning buses to the sporting venues. Some found this shift out of “vacation mode” quite a shock to the system, after passing a few relaxing days in the Gold Coast! But despite delays in getting special dietary needs taken care of, fitting all supporters into the available shuttle buses, or simply pausing to exchange a few more pins with fellow athletes, every adult and child arrived at their event on time.

Team Canada was represented at two sporting events today - 10-Pin Bowling and Indoor Volleyball. And boy, did they represent! The heat of this sunny Australian day (30 degrees and humid, unusually warm for a “Winter’s Day”), was nothing in comparison to the heat the Canadians put on their competitors in the 10-Pin Bowling competition this morning. Our Junior Team made us so proud, as they all but dominated this event. Five medals were won in the division;

    1. John Frias – GOLD MEDAL – Boys 12-14 year olds
    2. Devan Cruickshanks – GOLD MEDAL – Girls 12-14 year olds
    3. Rebecca Samuels – SILVER MEDAL – Girls 15-17 year olds
    4. Ronald Antonroy – BRONZE MEDAL – Boys 9-11 year olds
    5. Aydan Bredin – BRONZE MEDAL – Boys 6-8 year olds

We had four Canadian team members in the Adult Bowling division. A heart-stopping showdown between Joseph Gallo (age 18 years) and his fellow competitors ended with Joe winning a Bronze medal – quite an accomplishment considering the number of adults in his category (age 18-29). Angela Burghart won a silver medal for 10-Pin Bowling in her first ever World Transplant Games.

Meanwhile, at the Volleyball competition, the day started with a boisterous bus ride to the Volleyball venue – Runaway Bay Leisure Centre. There were 7 members on the team, three returning and four “newbies” including one junior. Katie, at 17 years old, was the youngest player from any country at this event.

Ultimately, Team Canada, after taking on the UK, Finland and Italy, finished with a solid 6th place. In the spirit of the Games most stayed to cheer on the Netherlands who defeated the Hungarians in a very close match to win the gold. For those of you keeping track, this brings the Canadian total medal count to: 9 !!!!!

As we enter into Day 3 of the Games, you can look forward to reports on Cycling, Tennis, Rowing and Badminton.

G’day mates! Wow – hard to believe a week has gone by since most of us boarded our flights for the “Land Down Under”....we’re even starting to speak like the locals! Today is a balmy 33 degrees with not a cloud to be seen in the sky – the perfect backdrop for one of our busiest days of competition at these Transplant Games. Team Canada participated in Cycling, Badminton, Rowing and Tennis events today, and medals were being collected faster than you can say “Crikie!”.

Let’s start off with Badminton. Twelve of our Junior athletes, as well as three adults, participated in this busy event. Athletes were matched head-to-head with their competitors based on age and gender. 8 medals were won by our junior athletes: four golds by Jessica Dorcich, Ayden Bredin, Seth Delguidice and Erin Vaters; Silvers by Kailyn Bredin and Ronnie Antonroy; and bronze to Chris Milliard and Matt Sikorski.

In the nearby town of Runaway Bay, our junior and adult cyclists dressed in the latest aerodynamic techno gear, provided by Louis Garneau, prepared to take their shot at the medals in the 5K Time Trials. Results are still pending due to some technical problems on the course. Will post when verified.

Dave Smith president of the CTA won a Gold Medal in Rowing, Leslie Petter won a bronze medal in Tennis, and John Frias also won a bronze medal for the Juniors in Tennis. Canada continues to be well represented in all the major events.

We had a fabulous evening at Sea World where 7 beautiful grey bottle nosed dolphins entertained all the athletes and supporters. One of our Canadian team athletes, Shillane Labbett, was chosen to be part of the show and had an up and close personal encounter with one of the dolphins- chosen from 2000 people for this experience. The show was followed by a fantastic dinner and open park policy which allowed all guests to roam around the park for an evening of free entertainment. Our teenage athletes took advantage of the upside down roller coaster, even filming the whole ride for their friends who were feeling a little apprehensive about the ride. A great time was had by all.

Canada breaks World Transplant Games Record in swimming

Another perfect day in paradise. Why do we live in Canada again?

As the sun rose over the ocean at 5:30am, the athletes prepared themselves for another day of competition. Everyone seems to have gotten the hang of the very early morning starts, and all now seem to be having a good breakfast before heading to their appropriate bus for the journey to their event.

Today the main three events were swimming, lawn bowling and the 20k cycling road race. Mackenzie Queen won a silver medal for the Juniors in cycling and Aron Cleugh a silver medal in the adult category.

Unfortunately one of the main issues at these games has been the lack of structured organization at some of the main events. This was very true today at the first day of swimming. Many families as well as athletes, and our Canadian support staff were left feeling very frustrated, as they arrived at the Brisbane Aquatics Centre expecting to compete in the early morning, and ended up swimming around 3pm! However there was lots of action in the pool as Canada tried to match the great dominance (as always) of the British team. They truly are a wondrous site to observe. Canada did make its mark on the world as the following medals were won:

  1. Mike Strilchuk – GOLD MEDAL AND NEW WORLD TRANSPLANT GAMES RECORD – 50m Butterfly (40-49 year old males)
  2. RJ Brack – GOLD MEDAL – 50m Butterfly (20-29 year old males)
  3. Jessica Dorcich – GOLD MEDAL – 50m Backstroke (9-11 year old females)
  4. Mike Strilchuk – BRONZE MEDAL – 50m Backstroke (40-49 year old males)
  5. RJ Brack – BRONZE MEDAL – 50m Backstroke (20-29 year old males)

Congratulations to all the swimmers who competed today, you made us proud!

Meanwhile, back in Broadbeach, the Lawn Bowls competition was held. While our Juniors did not compete in this event, we had a strong showing from the adult participants, and Shillane Labbett won the Bronze medal.

Tonight a very special event was held at Team Canada head quarters. The athletes and family members came together for a celebration of the love and support that brothers, sisters and friends provide in their transplant journey. Regardless of age, from the very young to older siblings the Junior transplant athletes were encouraged to publically acknowledge and thank their siblings for being part of their lives.

Even though Team Canada has enjoyed each day of competition thus far, the anticipation of the first day of Athletics is something the entire team looks forward to. Hard to believe that we are already at Day 6 of competition, as we all boarded the morning bus and the whole team headed out to Griffith University Athletic Stadium. One of the unique aspects of Athletics is that it is the only day when all World Transplant Games athletes congregate at a single venue, and aren’t scattered at various competitions throughout the city. Griffith University Athletic Stadium provided an intimate, yet perfect, setting for the competition. Yet again, we mention, it is only the start of spring here in the southern hemisphere and the temperatures soared into the 30 degree range. The stands were absolutely packed with athletes and supporters from all countries, but the sound of the “Canadian Train” (Whooo-whooooo!) rose above the rest.

Are you ready for this? Canada took home an outstanding 20 MEDALS in the competition today, completely dominating the medal podium! The day was packed with highlights, but a few stand out in particular. Margaret Bensen, Vice President of the CTA and double lung recipient, started the day off with an inspiring performance in the 3000m Race Walk, achieving a new World Transplant Record in this event. Our Juniors were absolute stars in their events this morning, and also achieved new World Transplant Records in the 100m dash (Chris Milliard for the 12-14 year old boys – at a lightening pace of 13.26 seconds) and Ball Throw (Seth Delguidice for the 9-11 year old boys). Early in the morning, a decision was made by the Men’s Adult Relay Team (based on the athleticism of some of our Junior team runners) to invite them to compete in the Men’s 4x100m Relay Race. They would be facing off against international teams consisting of only adult runners. Each of the juniors, John Michael Frias, Chris Milliard and Matt Sikorsk, recognized the significance of this request and the responsibility it required, and the decision was fully supported by the rest of the team. As the pistol fired, the entire Canadian support team held their breath and sat on the edge of their seats. Never has the 4x100m Relay been so exciting....and although the Relay Team finished in fifth position, the commentator acknowledged the team with total respect when the Juniors held up so well against their well-trained adult competitors.

The future of the Canadian Team looks incredibly bright...below is a break-down of the medal tally for this 6th day of competition:

  1. BRONZE – Lyne Pelletier – 3000m Race Walk
  2. GOLD AND NEW WTG RECORD – Margaret Benson – 3000m Race Walk
  3. SILVER – Margaret Benson – 1500m Run
  4. SILVER – Ayden Bredin – 50m Sprint
  5. GOLD – Seth Delguidice – 50m Sprint
  6. GOLD AND NEW WTG RECORD – Chris Milliard – 100m Sprint
  7. SILVER – John Michael Frias – 100m Sprint
  8. SILVER – Katie Sutherland – 100m Sprint
  9. SILVER – Matt Sikorski – 100m Sprint
  10. SILVER – Marvin Meissner – Ball Throw
  11. SILVER – Dylan Pake – Shot Put
  12. BRONZE – Ayden Bredin – Ball Throw
  13. GOLD AND NEW WTG RECORD – Seth Delguidice – Ball Throw
  14. SILVER – Seth Delguidice – Long Jump
  15. BRONZE – Chris Milliard – Long Jump
  16. SILVER – John Michael Frias – Ball Throw
  17. BRONZE – David Maggiori – Ball Throw
  18. SILVER – Matt Sikorski – Ball Throw
  19. SILVER – Matt Sikorski – Long Jump
  20. GOLD – Ivo Babic and Mervin Chen – Table Tennis Doubles


Well our last day was definitely full of excitement. The team gathered at the Athletics venue to cheer on all our athletes competing today. Gilles Lemay started the day off strong with a personal best in the 5km race walk coming in 7th in his age group. Leslie Petter broke her previous World record time in the 800 m with a run of 3:18:18 winning the Gold; Margaret Benson placed 2nd in her 800m race and then went on to win gold in the 200m race with a time of 39:16 sec. Our juniors had a strong showing setting two world records ; Jessica Dorcich threw twice as far as her closet competitor with a throw of 21.63m and also placed second in the long jump; Laura Gadet won the bronze in her division of the ball throw – but definitely the gold for the biggest smile on the podium! Meanwhile in the high jump, Matt Sikorski won gold for his age group with a jump of 1.40m. Samantha Eastop set a world record in the ball throw with a throw of 39.88 m and then went on to win bronze in the long jump. Mackenzie Queen also won silver in ball throw.

Special congratulations to Cliff Tam who was awarded the silver medal in the 5km Cycling Time trials after the judges reviewed the day’s events- there had been some technical issues following the race on Tuesday. Canada completed the games 8th overall ! Congratulations to all our athletes and supporters who would all have received a Gold for their team spirit and support over the week!!!

Following the athletics the athletes and supporters held their traditional ring of friendship on the track during the closing ceremonies. The evening concluded with a wonderful Gala where everyone had a chance to say good bye to all their new friends. We were all sad to be leaving the Gold Coast after such a wonderful week...but all good things must end.....now some are off on holidays around Australia, while others are heading home...all have left with many happy memories of the 17th World Transplant Games. We look forward to seeing you all in Quebec in August 2010!!

Rosie McHugh - Team Manager

The person that made the Games flow, coordinating registration, uniforms, flights, getting participants and supporters off to the events, taking photographs and attending endless mettings.
Kudos to Rosie and her team.