|Team GB in UK|
It was wierd travelling out to S.Africa and having to meet my parents in Johannesburg for the connecting flight to Durban. Drama's over and a long night flight with practically no sleep, we all finally arrived in Durban.
Lisa and I also registered and now it was becoming more and more real, even collecting my athlete pass and competition number to attach to my team kit.
The evening out was experiencing our first African foods and for the duration away, I tried more foods and felt a little adventurous from consuming meats (buffalo and ostrich) to all sorts of fish!
A nice meal out experiencing the South African culture. I also collect elephants, hence why this random photo of elephants I saw. I guess, I had to capture the moment ;)
Today was a free day to walk along the beach front, and I have to say that the weather was so overwhelmingly HOT! It was also lovely to experience the African culture and walk through the stalls and see all the handmade crafts.
It felt so surreal being here, and gratitude as if it wasn't for the kindness of my donor, I would not be here. I wanted to write a message in the sand, and leave my wording for other people to see until the waves washed over......
The evening was out with all of Team GB in the most amazing restaurant and watching fantastic African dancing/music. As you can see below wearing animal print to get into the feel of the night ;)
I totally loved the music and dancing, it's so energetic and vibrant. It also brought back memories as part of my degree whereby I took a module in African dance too. Will I want to start again upon returning to the UK!?
Another chilled day to relax and shop :)
|Yes, here I am and here it is|
Time for some facts about the World Transplant Games from 28th July - 3rd August with around 900 athletes across the globe. The list of countries (50) as listed below:-
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Great Britain & Northern Ireland, United States of America, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
Each country had their own time table as did Team GB in terms of training days and competition days. Free time was allowed aslong as no other commitments interfered with any training prior to events. However, I did still have enough free to explore Durban. I guess, the only thing I never did was diving with sharks! I did want to do this and thought perhaps after the games on my travels I would do so. It just never happened - so another item to add to my 'To Do' list.
The evening was a pre - welcome meal (nibbles) before the main event for the Open Ceremony the following day. It was a great night to catch up with friends I made 2 years ago at my first World Games in Gothenberg, Sweden. Also, making new friends on the night too. My highlight was when a group of Iranian ladies shouted my name, Justine Justine Justineeeeeeeee and came running up to me for hugs. I competed against the Iranians in Sweden and chatted with them lots and even tried to speak their language. It is hard to remember names from 2 years ago, but I never forget faces. Maybe slightly embarrassing when everyone remembers my name and can find me easily (had brighter hair if that's possible back then).
This night was not the same as in Sweden, whereby we paraded through the streets - stopping traffic and had people hooting in their cars, people looking out of their houses, people cheering and clapping, before parading in one big arena. This was more of a subdued affair missing out the walks and being already in the arena and walking in country by country with our team/countries flag. The atmosphere for this was still electric with music, shouting and spectators cheering each country. I have included various photos below for you to see. It was nice also to great various images of people in the team kits. After all 50 countries had paraded and sat down, we were entertained with live music, dancing, and poignant speeches about the Games and what it represents.
Please listen to this song representing our Games Our Hearts are Beating which everyone in the audience sang too, it's easy to sing along and watch the You Tube video. I Love Love this tune. xx
|Australia with Alice, Robyn and friends|
|Norway my lovely friend Yina|
|USA's Howard - what a star fella :)|
The whole arena had around 1,800 people and I must admit it was hard not to be teary eyed (my eyes welling up) with all the going on's, and music. It was dark so I tried to hide my tears, but, I wasn't the only one. Emotions always run high and the fact that hundred's of people's lives were saved by the gift of strangers or live donor's.
My morning started with an interview with a South African reporter for a local paper, followed by a nice stroll on the beach front.
A nice chilled day, and then dinner in a ship! Yes, a ship with sharks swimming around...just a normal day in the life of Justine ;)
|Cargo Ship Restaurant with sharks inside!|
|Alice and Anna|
|Hanging out with the dancers ;)|
My first day competing in the World Transplant Games, in lawn bowls and it is nice to be able to do a sport without getting breathless. I was quite surprised how popular a sport this was, and how many countries/competitors turned up today to compete. I must admit I haven't done lawn bowls before and although there is technique and people who practice religiously like any other sport, this was all new territory to me.
I thought, I would just do my best and try and have fun with it. It was quite a hot day and I tried to stay in shaded areas where possible or go indoors when not competing.
Games over and watching the results and seeing the winners being announced.....WOW!!!!
I heard my name being called out, and I had won bronze !!! Whoop Whoop.
|Winners - a proud moment|
|With other team GB and my Dad on the right (not the blue face) ;)|
|with the African ladies|
|Check my shoes ;)|
|Love this photo with one of the African girls|
Thursday 1st August
Smiling at the ready!!
|with some of the Iranian ladies and Lisa|
|competing with the Japanese|
|Mum and Dad posing ;)|
|with Claudia from Switzerland and Miriam from Iran|
I am pleased I competed, but, do think too much now to enter in this sport - I need less strenuous sports which uses less puff. So, I gave it my all knowing I played my best and that is still GOLD for me :) x
Today was an early start and my last competitions in shot put and discus.
|Believe this!!! I am living proof and many others|
|with Sandra and Alice|
|with Barb and Liz|
I think I was still exhausted from badminton yesterday, hey ho. Here I am in action giving it what I could.
With both shot put and discus you have a couple of practice throws, and then 3 main attempts. Each turn is rotated with each girl and it is not 3 consecutive throws. The rules are very strict in each sport discipline and the judges decision is final. I was now starting discus and thought I could be in with a chance watching the practices from other girls across the world.
However, I spoke too soon in my mind as my first two attempts were totally shameful and upsetting for all the work I have put in with my coach. I stepped forward outside the parameter instead of backwards, so my throw was a 'no throw', then my second shot ended up outside the throwing region! Argggghhhhhhhhh!!!! I was admittedly a bit annoyed just at myself and guess on the day you just never know what will happen (as I have already said). My practice throw was so far my best one around 17 metres but only my practice throw and doesn't count for the final competition.
No pressure, it's now all in my last go, it's now or never! I couldn't bear having 3 throws as fouls after all my hard work and with my coach's assistance over the year. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself, and now it wasn't about a medal - just getting a throw in!!!!!
|Here I go!!|
YES!!!! It was in, and no foul!! Yay!!! But, was it a winning throw? Only time would tell when all the results were tallied in and names called out for the awards later on. So, deep breathe as a sigh of relief and time to eat and just enjoy/watch other athletes in their sports.
Every person you meet at these games have their own story and even the donor families who attend too. But, nothing can prepare your emotions seeing children's lives transformed by a life saving transplants too. Seeing the young kids run 50 metres and have their parents at the finish line ready to pick them up and swirl them in the air
Everyone is affected from transplantation from babies needing life saving organs to adults. It is not the age of a person donating, but the condition of organ's. With this in mind even people in their 70's for example can be donors and save lives. It is about getting a match from blood group, tissue type and many other contributing factors. Being in Durban for this week was so inspirational and joy for those embracing their second chance on life.
Award ceremony time
|Collecting my bronze award|
|Just a tad happy ;)|
I was so happy to achieve a bronze medal in this, and delighted after all the drama I actually got some bling!
|Thanks to Essex Boot Camp my sponsors|
|With Lisa and Sophie|
So...fast forward my travels and the reality returning home with two gorgeous bronze medals as below.
Upon returning the local press were interested in updates and I found myself back in the BBC Essex Radio Studios, The Essex Chronicle Newspaper, East Anglian Daily Times and The Chelmsford Weekly News again who covered my story also prior to departure.
|Thanks to Chris Rushton Essex Chronicle photographer for photo|
Please click here How to Become A Donor Thanks x
|This says it all. Much Love to you xxx|