THE British Transplant Games got into full swing with hundreds of athletes competing in 13 different sports across Bolton.
Yesterday morning began with golf at Regent Park Golf Club and fishing at Bradshaw Hall Fisheries — but the main action was taking place at Bolton Arena.
The arena, which is hosting a huge range of sports over the weekend, saw badminton, tennis and volleyball, as well as hosting youngsters competing in the ball throw and the obstacle course.
Amongst the victorious children was five-year-old Ellie Beale, from Goring in Oxfordshire, who won gold in the five-years-and-under obstacle course.
This is already Ellie’s third Transplant Games performance, after she underwent a heart transplant three years ago.
Her mum, Debbie, said: “Ellie was born healthy but developed dilated cardio myopathy, which destroyed her heart.
“I think people who haven’t signed the organ donor register should come down here and see Ellie and the other children who wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for donors. Ellie’s transplant has transformed all of our lives.”
There was local success at the games yesterday as Dave Clarke, who taught IT at Thornleigh Salesian College in Sharples for 10 years, grabbed gold in the badminton doubles.
Mr Clarke, who used to live in Horwich but has since left Bolton, has competed in five World Transplant Games after having a kidney transplant in 2001.
His kidney failed after he suffered a heart attack playing professional rugby.
The 50-year-old, whose face appears on the Spirit of Sport statue in De Havilland Way, said: “It is great to be back in Bolton, I loved my time here.
“I was actually one of the people who suggested to the council that Bolton could host these games, so it is fantastic to see it happen.”
There was local interest in the volleyball as well. Bromley Cross dad Rob Hodgkiss was taking to the court following a heart transplant back in 1996.
After an easy win for his Newcastle Freeman team, which was the hospital where he had his operation, Mr Hodgkiss, who is a physiotherapist at Bolton Hospice, said: “It was good to win the game but it’s not about that — it is about all these people being able to take part and have fun.”
Events continued late into yesterday evening, with the top transplant arrow throwers in the country lining up at the Bolton Whites Hotel for the darts event.