Original article published in Sweden in En Sueco July 10, 2017.

by Victoria Ahlén, Photo: Joakim and Victoria Ahlén

If you stepped into Plaza de Toros in Malaga in the end of June and saw flags from 52 countries and thousands of participants preparing to compete in 17 sports, maybe you thought you entered yet another sporting event. Almost right but also so much more. “You are all my inspiration”, says Chris Thomas, president of World Transplant Federation when he proudly opens the 22nd games on June 25.

Reena Raju, heart transplanted is the first woman ever competing representing India in 100 m sprint and badminton. She shares a huge smile during the opening ceremony and says: “amazing to be here and take in this great atmosphere… at the next championship, I aim to inspire more to join”. Almost everyone in the arena carry the gift of life, at least twice or more. All participants have a donated organ is a donor family member. All have stared at death but championed and won life.

Lina Fransson, who gave birth to two children after her kidney transplant, is one of 10 Swedish delegates in Malaga. “At an ordinary table tennis tournament at home it is only Swedish participants and mostly focused on winning instead of all the rest around a sporting event”, says Lina. “Here you talk more and share jokes with everyone. The reason why I came to Malag is that the first time I was active in Thailand, my sister and I had so much fun my sister and I. My sister is very social just like me. It is a shame she is not here this time but this time I have my family with me. I enjoyed, not only my silver medal in table tennis, but watching my kids go from shy to daring to exchanging pins and making friends with many nationalities no matter language.

Our family joined the games as media volunteers but also to show our children the soul of sports and life for that matter. The laughter and the cheers that unite everyone running the 5 km road race in Malaga harbor early Sunday morning are sincere and supportive. From the first steps to the once that finish far behind the fastest runners crossed the finishing line.
Lars Santesson, 50 years, liver transplanted in 2002, is here for the second time and his focus is virtual triathlon – 5 km road race, 400 m swim, 30 km cycling. We meet for the first time right after the road race in an all ready steaming hot harbor area.

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“The atmosphere is amazing here… we who compete against our personal bests. and try to get the best time possible”, says Lars. “To compete is my way of staying active, it is important to train on your own level, you need to enjoy it all the way, advices Lars that is competing for the second time in WTG. A few days later we get an image on instagram where he proudly smiles with a gold medal around his neck.

2011 the World Transplant Games where held in Göteborg. Then Ottilie Quince competed in here first championship as a cyclist and we met there for the first time. She is now one of the veterans that have defended medals every other year in South Africa, Argentina and now in Malaga. “I thank my mom for my life”, she says with a voice that reaches from within. “I pay it forward by being an organ transplant ambassador and role model”, she shares. Ottilie proudly leaves the games with a huge smile and two gold medals from 5 and 20 km cycling.

World Transplant Games ends a week after it started on July 2 with a ring of the champions of life that walk towards the center where hugs are shared at the Athletics court of Malaga. This is a tradition from the beginning of the games. “What a gift life is! Thank you all amazing sports women and men for sharing your moments with us. Lots of Love from the Ahlén family, Lucas (12), Maj (9), Joakim behind the camera and Victoria on social media and writing.

familjen ahlen vilostrada wtg malaga 2017ottiie quice gb transplant wtg 2017 cyclling photo joakim ahlen

You can take a stand on organ donation and give the gift of life! 

MOD – Mer organdonation (Sweden)
(UK) Organ donation 

Our meeting during WTG 2017 in images:

Vilostradas facebook album: Celebrate the Gift of Life

More from the official WTG facebook channel:
Official World Transplant Games