North-East heart transplant athlete picks up triple medals at World Transplant Games (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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North-East heart transplant athlete picks up triple medals at World Transplant Games
A NORTH-EAST athlete who underwent a heart transplant five years ago is celebrating a summer of sporting success.
Simon Ripley, 29, of Darlington, scooped three medals when he flew the flag for Great Britain at the World Transplant Games, held in South Africa earlier this month.
He picked up a double bronze in cycling and a silver in javelin at the major international event before returning to England and snatching two silver medals at the British Transplant Games just over a week later.
Mr Ripley said the trip to South Africa had been the experience of a lifetime. He said: “The games get national attention in South Africa so everyone knew what was going on and supported us.
“There were more than two thousand athletes there and it was brilliant to be part of it and to represent the North-East as there were only six of us from the region.
“We had a cycling team of 13 people with a maximum of 25 medals we could win and we took home 19 of them, including ten golds.
“I broke my personal best and it was great. Having a heart transplant means you can be at a disadvantage to other athletes as we always have to control our heart rate so it felt like a great achievement.”
He added: “I came home and competed in the British games a week later. My son got to watch me compete for the first time and he was really excited and happy.”
Mr Ripley’s medals will be added to a growing collection, gathered since the ambitious father-of-two took up competitive cycling, archery and javelin following his heart transplant.
Hoping his story could inspire other transplant patients, he added: “I am going from strength-to-strength and I want people to know it is possible to go on and do well and excel.
“I never in a million years thought I would be at this level, I just wanted to stay active.
“I wouldn’t tell anyone to go through what I’ve been through but the heart transplant has opened a lot of doors for me and has been life changing in different ways, from saving my life to letting me enjoy it again.
“It has given me the chance to get out there and see the world.”
Simon Ripley in action in South Africa
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