Select a day
5 Sunday
6 Monday
7 Tuesday
8 Wednesday
9 Thursday
10 Friday
11 Saturday
12 Sunday
World Games,
Winter World



A Golden Birthday
Story by Eleanor Jones
Photography by Eleanor Jones and Douglas Armstrong
Audio by
Douglas Armstrong
VIEW RESULTS when available

The Track & Field ("Athletics") event was held at the Nepstadion (that is, the People's Stadium) in Pest, the largest stadium in Hungary. Once you find the entrance (one of the Australians put it well: "We always knew where we were, it's just that the buildings got lost!"), it opens up before you and you get a real sense of how large it is.
One person having a very good day at Nepstadion was Iija Ignatiew of Finland (at left in photo). Not only did she win two gold medals today (in 100 meters and high jump), not only is she happy to be alive, but today was her 33rd birthday, too!
Around 1989, Iija began to get sick with primary pulmonary hypertension. As a youngster, and until the age of 22, she had been involved in track events as a member of an athletic club. Unfortunately, because she was always athletic and upbeat, her symptoms were not obvious. Only after her heart was affected did the doctors realize that her lungs had been quite damaged. She was quite sick, confined to a wheelchair, unable to pick up her fifteen month old daughter, unable to do even the simplest task for herself. She found it very frustrating. By the time Iija was put on the waiting list, she didn't even have enough energy to have any strong emotions; she was never really happy, never really angry, she was just existing.

While Iija waited three and a half weeks for a heart and lungs, the doctors were predicting that she would die within two weeks if the transplant didn't arrive. She was so desperate that she thought that even if the transplant gave her just a few more months of life, it would be worth it.

Fortunately, it has given her five extra years of life, for which she is very grateful. Even though she suffered several bouts of rejection and problems with infections after the transplant, she has overall done very well. Iija appreciates every day she's given, and is very happy to be alive.
When she was sick, she said to herself "If I could just run the 500 meter one more time, I would be so happy." Now she runs whenever she gets the chance, including the Finland National Transplant Games, the EuroTransplant Games, the Scandinavian Transplant Games, and previous World Transplant Games. In Sydney, she won two silver medals (100 meter and long jump), and one bronze (200 meters).
When asked why she decided to come to Budapest, she replied, " be with people who can really understand what life is like after transplantation. And to win! Also, I have always wanted to win three gold medals, so maybe tomorrow!" Iija has two more events on Sunday, so she may get her birthday wish!
I also met Brett Jones, a ten- year-old Australian who was introduced by his father as "a medical miracle." Brett was born without an immune system. At the time, there were only about twenty other such cases and the doctors gave him a very grim prognosis. After getting a bone marrow transplant at the age of one in 1990, Brett has done very well. In Sydney at the XI World Transplant Games, he competed in five events. Brett is pleased to be here in Budapest, where he is the youngest boy taking part in the Games. Brett's father, Stephen Jones, has become a fundraiser for children's hospitals and has started a fundraising organization for sick kids called "Kids Like Brett." Brett is taking home at least one bronze medal from today's competition. (Brett is at the far right in the group photo.)


Two Italian competitors, Giovanni Antichi and Carolina Panico, were camped out in the cool green grass in the field in the center of the stadium, watching the races. I asked them why they came to the Games, and they said "We love sports, we love people, and we want to help people learn about donation, to help people who are waiting for transplants." Giovanni received a kidney transplant five years ago (in 1994), lives in Savona (near Genoa), and is competing in skittles, swimming, and volleyball. Carolina had a kidney transplant fifteen years ago (in 1984), lives in Naples, and is competing in volleyball, skittles, and bicycling.

In addition, Carolina wrote this message for our viewers:



(which is roughly translated as: "I hope that the 12,000 people in Italy who are on the waiting list will get the real opportunity to be with us at the next Games, so that we can enjoy them together!") Hear, hear!


free player

Jose Manuel Rivero and Francesc Pique of Team Spain collect track and field medals

free player

Turlough O'Hagan, bone marrow recipient and recent addition to the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team discusssed the XII World Transplant Games





Foils and Sabers Under the Dome
Story by Robert Garypie
Photography by Gary Green and Peter Ottlakan
Audio by
Douglas Armstrong
VIEW RESULTS when available

On the top floor of a converted synagogue, the fencing was underway when we arrived. The domed ceiling of the competition room at this venue is painted in blue, yellow, red, and beige geometric patterns. The building was a synagogue until World War II. It then became a storage facility until 1989. Then the building came to life again as a sports facility. The large stained glass windows are still in place, tinting the beams of sunlight shades of blue and yellow.

Gary Green, TransWeb volunteer and World Transplant Games Federation Councillor, patiently described the competition to onlookers. According to Gary, accidental fencing injuries are rare but can be fatal. Gary has been fencing for twenty years; his tour in the Peace Corps drew on his knowledge of fencing as he was assigned to coach the Chilean Olympic team a few years back.

Today's competitors become instantly anonymous once they put on their protective equipment. A black mesh face guard disguises all emotion and expression. On the electrified metal floor, points are scored when one's weapon contacts the torso of the opponent.

With long wires running from the walls to the competitors, lights and buzzers come to life when contact is made. Each fencer has three wires that connect to the scoring computer on the wall. One for his torso-area jacket, and two from his weapon. Scoring is based on using the tip of the weapon to strike the torso of the opponent.

The men and women from Hungary, Australia and USA were fencing for ten hits to win each match. The round robin competition allowed every competitor to meet all the others at some point in the day. At the Olympic level, Hungarian saber teams are famously successful and today's officials were Hungarian fencing Olympians.

Two American men, one Australian woman, one Hungarian woman and two Hungarian men participated.

Peter Cappuccilli of Team USA, hailing from Rhode Island, took a silver and a bronze for Team USA. A kidney recipient, Cappuccilli was cheered on by his son at the event. After losing to Gyorgy Szekely of Hungary, who is also the president of the local Transplant Games organizing committee, Cappuccilli remarked, "In the last half of that bout he began to really fence, which is what I wanted." Just prior to the medals ceremony I asked Cappuccilli how he liked competing in Budapest. "Are you kidding? It's great! My son is here with me -- he just graduated from college -- and I get to spend five days with him in Budapest. He lives in Florida and the two of us travelled here together. It's just great!"

Having begun fencing just a year ago, Cappuccilli is thrilled to be here. "Just wait two years -- I'll see you in Japan!"


The quiet of the medals ceremony room turned to a deafening roar of clapping and cheering when the medals were presented. Then the Hungarian national anthem was played and the crowd fell silent again. Strains of Hungarians singing their anthem filled the room.

In the corner, Dr. Joszef Ree, the Hungarian WTGF councillor, stood and looked on. As the anthem reached its crescendo, Ree (who was largely responsible for these Games' coming to Budapest) looked around the room. A heartfelt smile slowly crept across his face as he must have realized that all of his hard work paid off. The athletes are here, the medals are being awarded, and Budapest has become a great home for the World Transplant Games.

free player

Interview with kidney recipient Agnes Jung of Budapest, a gold medal winner in fencing

XII World Transplant Games webcast front page Photo Gallery About the World Transplant Games Sponsors of the Webcast XII World Transplant Games webcast front page Sponsors of the Webcast Behind the Scenes Contact the Webcast Team Press Information Photo Gallery

Last modified: 11 May 2000