Try a Tri Opens Up A World Of Possibilities For Transplant Athlete Kevin

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British Transplant Games bronze medal winning cyclist Kevin Bell is looking forward to entering a number of new events at this year’s games in Birmingham after expanding his sports skillset with Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Try and Tri initiative.

The scheme which was introduced last year offers local people the opportunity to prepare for a beginner level triathlon in just six weeks and the latest intake will compete their first triathlon in and around Templemore Sports Complex this Sunday.

Kevin is a well known face around the city centre in his role as Bar Manager at Quay’s Bar in the city but most customers at the Shipquay Street premises are unaware of his critical health difficulties which began over five years ago.

Nurse of the Year

“I went for a test about diabetes and by chance it showed up that I had Chronic Kidney Disease and that I had just 7% functionality in my kidneys,” he explained. “By the start of 2013 I was on dialysis and I can’t speak highly enough about the support and care I received at the Altnagelvin Renal Unit who are the only nurses in Northern Ireland to be nominated for the UK wide Nurse of the Year Patients Choice Award this year.”

“The Renal unit began to search for a transplant donor, my brother and sister were tested and found to be a match and on 19th August 2013 I was successfully transplanted with Kieran’s kidney. During my rehab I did some training to keep the weight off and stay as healthy as I could but I had to keep it light so I didn’t put too much pressure on the kidney.”

British Transplant Games

Kevin’s training opened up the opportunity to take part in last year’s British Transplant Games in North Lanarkshire. He brought home a bronze medal in the 10k Cycle event but it was the spirit of participation at that event that had the biggest impact on him.

“It was an incredible experience and quite emotional to see things like kids doing 100 metre sprints with walking frames and 80 year olds taking part in running races,” he continued. “The main award was taking part and soaking up the occasion, it’s all about participation and it’s humbling to see people finishing down the field but still just delighted to be taking part and enjoying the experience.

Sunday’s event will feature ten lengths of the Templemore Sports Complex pool (250m), a 10 mile cycle and a two mile run. The introduction to running and swimming means Kevin will now compete in a number of events when the Transplant Games come to Birmingham in August.

“The Transplant Games really gave me the bug to get involved in organised sport and when I saw the Try a Tri initiative advertised I thought it was the perfect chance to take part in a beginner level sports event and try new disciplines,” he continued. “I would have been active when I was younger and I was a member at Templemore Sports Complex in my early 20s but Try and Tri has really helped build my fitness and enjoy my training again, the coaches have been first class and there’s a great spirit among the group where we urge each other on.

“There are people there who have never taken part in training before but everything is done in baby steps to build confidence. It isn’t timed and the main emphasis is on participation but I’ve particularly enjoyed the running and swimming elements and it has given me the confidence to enter other events at this year’s Transplant Games in Birmingham.”

Progress

“From last year where I just did the 10K Cycle, I’m looking at doing the 100 metre sprint, 100m swim, a 5k time trial on the bike and the 10k cycle this summer. I have some difficulties with cramping in my calfs which is a symptom of Chronic Kidney Disease but all the training has been done at a pace I’m comfortable with. It would definitely give me the incentive to go on and do a full Triathlon in the future, if the Liam Ball Triathlon had been in six or eight weeks time I might have tried to go for that but maybe next year.”

To vote for the Altnagelvin Renal Home Therapy Team for the Nurse Awards Patients Choice Award go to https://secure.rcni.com/nurse-awards/patients-choice-voting.asp
For further information visit www.derrystrabane.com/tryatri or contact Ryan Porter on 02871 253253 ryan.porter@derrystrabane.com.

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