Fourteen Western Cape athletes will represent South Africa at the 24th World Transplant Games in Perth, Australia, in April.
Team Transplant will travel to Australia to compete in various sporting codes such as athletics, tennis, golf, and cycling, from Saturday April 15 to Friday April 21. They will also celebrate their second chance at life during this event where approximately 1500 transplant athletes from all over the world are expected to compete.
What makes this group of athletes unique is that they are all recipients of a life-saving organ transplant, and the games will give them the opportunity to show their gratitude towards their donors and all the donor families around our country.
“If it was not for our donors, none of us would have been on our way to the Transplant Games,” said Rentia le Roux, the chairwoman of the Western Cape Transplant Sports Association and manager of the Western Cape team.
To have gotten to this point in their sporting careers all athletes had to compete and qualify at the SA Transplant Games in Gqeberha last year. After the games, they had to re-qualify to be selected to represent their country and be awarded senior Protea colours in transplant sports.
The athletes selected are all members of the Western Cape Transplant Sports Association. The association forms part of the South African Transplant Sports Association, which, through sports and other physical activities, optimises the quality of life of organ-transplant recipients and promotes organ donation and transplantation.
Chantel Menziwa, from Kuils River, a firefighter working at Cape Town International Airport, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2017 and had a life-saving bone marrow transplant in 2021.
She made a full recovery, participated at the SA Transplant Games in 2022 and qualified for this year’s World Transplant Games.
Ms Menziwa is an avid runner and ran during chemotherapy completing the Virtual Cape Town Marathon in October 2020. She has completed several other marathons and aims to do the Comrades in the future. She will be competing in the 100m track event at the World Transplant Games.
Ms Menziwa said finances were a huge challenge for the World Transplant Games athletes as flights, accommodation and registration amounted to about R45 000 per athlete.
The Western Cape Transplant Sports Association has covered some of the expenses through various fund-raisers, but most athletes are still trying to secure sponsorships to pay for their trip to Australia.
“We are positive that we will get our whole team to Australia this year,” said Ms Le Roux.
“Most of us have been blessed with a will to achieve anything after our transplants. We thank each sponsor and member who has made an effort to assure that we get to Australia and celebrate the gift of life,” she said.
“We appeal to the public to help us so that so that we can send the full team to Australia. For most of them it will be a dream come true. Please help.”
The team chosen to compete in Australia are Derek Botes (golf), Jacques Carstens (lawn bowls), Kurt de Graaf (tennis and darts), Mary-anne Johnson (track and field), Joshua Kriegler (tennis), Rentia le Roux (track and field), Michelle Luscombe (table tennis, track and field), Gawie Marx (tennis and pétanque), Chantel Menziwa (track and field), Lloyd Perry (tennis, golf, track and field), Melda Ruiters (track and field), Kyle Southworth (squash, track and field), Bradley Arendse (track and field) and Mark Agnew (track and field).
To assist, contact the Western Cape Transplant Sports Association at 083 292 1518.