‘Awesome’ global games ends in four-medal haul for Felixstowe transplant athlete
PUBLISHED: 13:51 07 July 2017 | UPDATED: 13:57 07 July 2017
A Suffolk athlete’s journey home from international competition was weighed down by her latest haul of medals for Great Britain.
Michelle Mitchell, from Felixstowe, brought back gold, two silvers and a bronze medal from the World Transplant Games in Malaga.
If sprinting 100, 200 and 400 metres wasn’t challenging enough, the school caretaker plans to add middle-distance to her repertoire by running the 800 metres at the annual British Transplant Games, in Glasgow, later this month.
Mrs Mitchell, 55, underwent life-saving liver transplant surgery at Addenbrooke’s Hospital three years ago, after being diagnosed with primary biliary cirrhosis, which gradually causes damage to the bile ducts in the abdominal organ.
Without the transplant, she may have only survived another couple of months.
Before her operation, the mother-of-two ran for Felixstowe Road Runners and completed two London Marathons – but treatment cut short her long-distance racing, as well as full-time work running food hygiene contracts in factories and supermarkets.
Training is made more difficult by side-effects from strong drugs taken to stop Mrs Mitchell’s body rejecting the transplanted organ.
Returning from winning gold in the relay, silver in the 200 and 400 metres, and bronze in the 100 metres, she said: “It was just an awesome experience – and it went really well.
“I came back with such a positive attitude.
“At the end of July, I’m going to the British games and will be running 800 metres. Then I’m off to the European games next year.”
Mrs Mitchell now works as a caretaker at Kingsfleet Primary School, where staff and pupils gave her a moving send-off ahead of the competition in Spain.
The school organised a ‘come in your sports gear day’, with children invited to make a donation towards travel and kit, which she funded herself, while gaining sponsorship and further financial backing from local firms 3rd Party Logistics, Coastal Global Logistics and DRS Logistics, and from drinking water producer, Kona Deep.
Mrs Mitchell was trained by trail runner and soft tissue therapist, John Reynolds, and supported along the way by husband Adrian, and children Russell and Victoria.