ATHLETES from 60 countries will travel to the North-East for the World Transplant Games this summer.

The Games – which promote the benefits of transplantation, encourage transplant patients to regain fitness, and raise awareness of organ donation – will be held at 13 venues across the region between August 17 and 24.

Participants will come from far and wide, with several countries taking part for the first time including Azerbaijan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mongolia and Nepal.

The youngest participant is a six-year-old Argentinian girl who will compete in the ball throw, long jump and 50 metre sprint, with the oldest an 84-year-old French man taking part in the cycling, swimming and athletics.

More than 800 volunteers have signed up to support the Games and venues which include Gateshead International Stadium, Sunderland Aquatic Centre, Close House Golf Resort and Sport Central.

Colin White, treasurer of the World Transplant Games Federation, which has had representatives in the region to prepare, said: “The WTGF is excited at the prospect of the Games in Newcastle Gateshead in August. The local organising committee has clearly been working exceptionally hard and the level of public engagement is particularly noteworthy, with the Sage UK 6k Fun Run a perfect example.

“It would be wonderful to see those who participate in the run also coming out to support the competitions throughout the week of the Games – they are guaranteed a sporting spectacle and they will also see for themselves that organ donation truly works.”

As well as the sporting events, the Games will celebrate transplant recipients and donors through opening and closing ceremonies, a donor recognition event and cultural activities.

The public is welcome to spectate and can take part in the Gift of Life Run on Sunday, August 18 at Newcastle Exhibition Park and the Town Moor.

Graham Wylie, chairman of the World Transplant Games Newcastle Gateshead 2019, said: “We are counting down the days until the start of the Games and can’t wait to welcome nearly 2,300 participants to the North-East. The athletes will compete at several world class sporting venues across our region, as well as celebrating organ donation through our fabulous social and cultural programme.

“The athletes that compete at the World Transplant Games are a true inspiration and we are honoured to be able to welcome such an inspiring celebration of human coverage and physical fitness to the region.”

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