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2009-2010 Season > Non-League News > Maggie Celebrates Gold Medal Success
Maggie Celebrates Gold Medal Success
Maggie Celebrates Gold Medal Success
Maggie Gambrill from the St Neots club in Cambridgeshire recently returned from the European Heart & Lung Games. Here in her own words she describes how she came to be taking part in such an event and the key support received from St Neots TTC and Club Coaching Officer Mark Mitchell.


Like most of us as a child I played ping pong on the dining room table at home. My love of sport continued to my adult years with a particular passion for bats, racquets and balls.

I kept fit and very rarely had any illness. It therefore came as a complete shock to be diagnosed in 1998 with Cardiomyopathy, disease of the heart muscle, and my life took a dramatic change in direction from that day. Medication kept me stable for a while but when my health deteriorated my only option to save my life was a heart transplant. I had no quality of life at this point, was pretty much housebound and any sporting activity became impossible - my racquets etc were put to one side and I never imagined being able to use them again.

In October 2002 at Papworth Hospital, Cambridge, I became the fortunate recipient of a donor heart and feel very blessed. My thoughts are always with my donor family for without their sacrifice I would not have lived.

I was determined to look after this precious gift and was positive and motivated to build up my strength and fitness. So much so that in 2004 I became a proud member of the Papworth Transplant Games Team and joined Transplant Sport UK. This is a registered Charity whose main aim is to raise awareness of the need for organ donation in the UK and worldwide, through organising sports and social events for transplant recipients.

I have now competed in 6 British Transplant Games (held annually), 3 European Heart & Lung Games and, due to my success, have been selected to join the UK team at 3 World Transplant Games (bi-annual). It had been a long road back to fitness and I cannot describe what it feels like now to be able to play sport again.

Even my competitive spirit has returned - not only do I want to win but I strive to improve on my performance and Mark Mitchell, my table tennis coach, is helping me do just that! We first met at the St Neots Table Tennis Centre where I am a member and he is our Club Coach. I explained that apart from ping pong on the dining room table I had very little experience and I guess he knew he had a mountain to climb! Our sessions are both fun and focused and I benefit every week from his training and am learning new skills all the time. We have a great understanding and Markís dedication and commitment to my coaching is without question.

Mark helped me on the way to win 2 Gold Medals in Table Tennis Singles & Doubles at the European Heart & Lung Games that were held in Sweden in July 2010. He is now helping with my training for the British Transplant Games in Bath in August where Iím hoping to qualify again for the World Games next year.

I feel very lucky to be enjoying life again and to have met someone like Mark, who is dedicated to his coaching to the benefit of myself and Iím sure many others in the future.

Maggie Gambrill
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