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TransWeb's athletics index
 Monday 15 January

[click to enlarge]

The crowd
erupted in
as team
from each
country tried
to outdo one



[click to enlarge]


Story and audio by Bob Merion
Photography by Bob Garypie and Peter Ottlakan

At the end of the day's alpine and nordic competition, small knots of participants, team coaches, family members, and Games organizers began filing into a spacious wood-paneled room overlooking the Nendaz patinoire (skating rink) for the presentation of medals from the day's events.

A reception including light snacks and drinks hosted by the 4th Winter World Transplant Games preceded the formal activities and afforded everyone an opportunity to enjoy each other's company, recount the events of the day, make new friends, and renew old acquaintances.

By 6:30pm, the room was filled to capacity. Beat Gottschalk, Technical Director of the Nendaz Games, called for order and began the presentation of bronze, silver, and gold medals for men's and women's giant slalom and 3 km cross-country ski competitions in the various age groups.

The shining medals, each engraved with the Games logo and bearing the name of the event, were brought forward in sets of three, attached to red and white neck ribbons and draped on a white pillow. As each category was announced, Gottschalk called upon one of the team managers to make the medal presentations.

In the giant slalom, Walter Rettenegger, an Austrian kidney transplant recipient in the senior division had the fastest overall time of 1:23.86. The fastest woman of the day in the giant slalom was Annemarie Moser, a veteran division competitor from Switzerland whose liver transplant carried her to a 1:44.25 combined time.

As each winner was announced, the crowd erupted in spirited applause, as team members from each winner's country tried to outdo one another's enthusiasm. The winners came forward to appear on the three-tiered winner's stand, bronze to the right, silver to the left, and gold highest in the center. After bestowing the ribboned medals and exchanging handshakes and double-cheek kisses, each threesome stood together for recognition and photographs.

Judit Berente won the women's veteran division 3K cross-country event. A member of 1999's World Transplant Games' Hungarian organizing committee, she is also a kidney recipient, and her time was 21:30.41. On the men's side, Norwegian kidney transplant Fikse Olav, skied to a winning time of 11:39.79.

Flags appeared and spontaneous renditions of the winners' national anthems could be heard accompanying some of the medal presentations.

But despite these displays of national pride, there was a strong feeling of comaraderie in the room, as everyone acknowledged both the individual and collective achievements of these courageous recipients.

As the ceremony ended and everyone made their way to the hotels for dinner, there was a comforting warmth in the otherwise cold alpine air.