'It was an honour' - Suffolk athlete returns with medal haul from Transplant Games
PUBLISHED: 15:15 06 July 2018
A Suffolk athlete has returned with a haul of medals after representing Great Britain in an international competition - just five years after undergoing life-saving transplant surgery.
Michelle Mitchell, from Felixstowe, took three golds and a silver in the recent European Transplant Games in Sardinia, fulfilling a childhood ambition to compete for her country.
“It was an honour to represent my country and meet new friends from other European countries who had also received life-saving transplants,” she added.
“I won gold in the 100m, 400m and 800m plus a silver medal in the 200m – and I got personal bests in all events. I was amazed by the fantastic response I have received back home in Suffolk.”
The 57-year-old, who works as a caretaker at Kingsfleet Primary School, was given just months to live in 2013 but underwent life-saving liver transplant surgery at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.
A lifelong athletics enthusiast, the mother-of-two previously ran competitively for Felixstowe Road Runners and competed two London Marathons. However, the side-effects from her treatment drugs cut short her long-distance career. Since returning to competitive athletics, Mrs Mitchell has won gold, bronze and silver medals at last year’s World Transplant Games in Malaga, She has also competed in last year’s British games.
The 10th European Transplant and Dialysis Sports Championships featured competitors from across the continent all of whom had received either kidney, liver, heart, lung, pancreas or bone marrow transplant, or were dialysis patients. More than 50 GB athletes attended, supported by the charity Transplant Sport.
Speaking before setting off for Sardinia, Mrs Mitchell said: “It was always a childhood ambition to represent my country on the running track.
“I never thought that would happen, but because of a successful transplant operation I have managed to fulfil my childhood dream. I didn’t see having a transplant as a death sentence, it made me sit up and think ‘wow what wonderful lives we have’.
“Through sport I can show people that a woman in her late 50s with a transplant can still compete at a high level.”
Mrs Mitchell thanked her sponsors and her donor’s family.