‘Super Gran’ to take on the world

Fidelma Hodkinson is thrilled to have been selected by the UK for the World Transplant Games, which takes place in Durban, next July.
Fidelma Hodkinson is thrilled to have been selected by the UK for the World Transplant Games, which takes place in Durban, next July.

A grandmother, who a decade ago underwent a bone marrow transplant will be taking on the world next July, in South Africa.

Fidelma Hodkinson, from Colby Avenue is the only female selected for the UK squad for the World Transplant Games, next year.

Amazingly the former primary school teacher will be competing against fellow transplant athletes in both the 100-metre and 200-metre sprint races, as well as riding in the 5k time trial and the 20k road race, in Durban.

She has had two consecutive successful years at the UK Transplant Games - last year held in Belfast and this year in Kent - and in both games came away with a number of gold, silver and bronze medals.

Those medal successes in Belfast and Kent has meant she is hungry for more in Durban next July.

“Over the last 18 years, since the World Transplant games have been going, the UK have done very well in the medals table and I need to add to that,” said the 61-year-old.

“I am the only woman from Derry who will be competing in South Africa, I can’t wait, but sometimes I can’t think what am I doing.

“I’m delighted and taken aback to be competing, to tell you the truth and that I have been selected at my age to both run and cycle among world athletes, so I can now call myself an international athlete, which is really, really making me smile.

“I had entered the cycling, but the team manager told he had entered me in the 100 metre race and the first runner in the relay race, so I was taken aback with that, but I did well and ended up getting selected.”

A decade ago Fidelma was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and required bone marrow donation from her sister, Fiona, to save her.

“I suppose it highlights the benefits of organ donations and it really, really is a gift of life,” she added.

“I have nine sisters and thankfully for me Fiona’s matched and it really has given me a new lease of life. My family were delighted that I was selected, now when I was ill they were just terrific, so I feel I’m now doing something for them when I’ll be competing in South Africa.

“They are also delighted that firstly I have been selected and secondly that I have decided to take part.”

Although Mrs Hodkinson has been selected she still has to put in a lot of tough work both on and off the track.

“I’m doing a lot of training, I joined Foyle Valley Athletics club and their coach Gabriel Bell has been great, for the games in Kent, he gave me a training programme and since I have come back he has given me a new programme, which I am doing.

“I have also been involved in the Foyle Cycling Club and the gentlemen there have been terrific. So I have been training at least three times a week, maybe more.

“There is awful lot of expense and I have set-up a ‘Just Giving’ page, so if anyone wants to donate, they can by visiting the www.justgiving.com/fidelmaforgold’

To find out more about Transplant Sport visit www.transplantsport.org.uk or to find out more about the Anthony Nolan Trust and bone marrow transplants visit www.anthonynolan.org