Best friends from Cork strike gold in transplant games

"I’m so thankful to have received the gift of life which allowed me to compete." 
Best friends from Cork strike gold in transplant games

From left golfers Pat O'Sullivan and Hugh Nolan who won gold medals in the golf singles category of the World Transplant Games 2023 with silver medalists Ron Grainger and Tony Gavigan

BEST friends from Cork who ended up receiving transplants around the same time have overcome adversity to win gold medals at the World Transplant Games 2023.

Pat O’Sullivan and Hugh Nolan, who are both from North Cork, reigned supreme in the golf singles event in Perth. 

Pat dedicated the gold medal to his donor and their family.

The Cork duo’s win comes seven years after Pat spoke to The Echo about a chain of good luck that appears to have lasted for both men.

In 2016 Pat and Hugh came to prominence after their prayers for kidney transplants were answered around the same time. The golf enthusiasts had a joint win with their friend John Hurley - also a transplant recipient - on a GAA Lottery ticket in 2015. They joked at the time about the possibility of this setting off a chain of good luck that would eventually lead to transplants.

Just a month later Hugh received a call to say a transplant had become available followed weeks later by a call for Pat. John also received his transplant soon afterwards. 

Pat said he never believed his and Hugh’s luck would continue as it has.

“After 15000 miles and four nights without sleep we are thrilled with the success,” he told The Echo. 

Pat paid tribute to his donor and their family.

“They have given me this opportunity. I’m so thankful to have received the gift of life which allowed me to compete. 

"I’d really like to thank my donor and their family who are always in my thoughts.”

Pat and Hugh Nolan competed in Category 1 (the lowest handicap group of those registered). Pat described the course as “hard enough”

“The greens were tricky,” he added. 

Mairead O’Mahony from Berrings in Cork, who underwent a bone marrow transplant when she was just 18 years old, won a silver in the 5km race in her age category (40-49 years) with a finish time of 24.55, in what was her first time representing her country in the sport.

Hugh, Pat and Mairead are not the only Irish contestants scooping wins across the board.

Golfers Dubliner Ron Grainger and Tony Gavigan from Longford, were awarded silver medals in golf pairs Category 4 (handicap). 

“It came as a surprise to us," Ron said. "We played our best all day and had a wonderful game of golf with two South African Kidney recipients, so it was great to win the silver medal.”

He went on to add his thanks to his family for supporting him through the good times and the bad, but most of all his kidney donor, saying “just to be here at all, to have the gift of life thanks to someone else’s generosity is phenomenal.”

Tony agreed with Ron’s summary, adding that they have been partners in Golf at previous World Games and have always gelled well. He also felt the weather helped, being the first game of golf they have played in sunny weather for a while! Tony also added his thanks to his son Elden who is living in Christchurch, New Zealand, who spent three weeks coaching him in golf.

He said “I felt very optimistic going into the competition thanks to his advice and coaching”. 

Tony also acknowledged his gratitude to his kidney donor.

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