WEDNESDAY JULY 20: TENNIS
SEE ALSO: More photos
STORY: H. Jose Bosch
PHOTOGRAPHY: H. Jose Bosch and Marilyn Indahl
It Takes Two…
“People asked us if we were brothers,” said Dunkin, of the first time the two of them hung out in person. “It was kind of ironic.”
Akin felt he was very fortunate to have met Dunkin. It’s rare when two people with such similar tastes meet by chance. Even more so when both people have had transplants. But once Akin met his new partner, he knew everything would be alright.
“I just thought, ‘Hey, there’s another guy out there like me. Let’s just enjoy this,’” Akin said.
Playing in the men’s doubles super senior division final, the two dominated much of their match, only dropping one game to a Spanish doubles team en route to the gold medal. As the two ran back and forth on the clay courts outside of Green Hills Country club, their parents were on hand to watch. Akin’s mother was very honest when asked how she felt about watching her son playing in the final.
“It’s very nerve-wracking,” she said.
This isn’t Akins' first World Transplant Games. He had competed in Nancy, France where he won a bronze medal in rifle. He was also the champion during the U.S. Transplant Games in golf last year. He will also be competing in golf at this year’s games along with Dunkin.
“It’s just been a miracle,” Akin’s father said.
His mother added: “It’s wonderful to see so many survivors participating (in the games).”
And that is the point of these games, according to both men. They believe these games are a tribute to donors and their families and they are a way for people who have received transplants to thank all those who supported them. Akin also believed the games do a good job to show people that organ transplants do work.
“I’m just happy to be here,” Akin said. “It’s unbelievable to have a second chance at life.’
Dunkin felt the same way: “Giving someone a better opportunity of life – there is nothing bigger.”
After the doubles match, Dunkin competed in the singles finals. Playing smart tennis he ran his opponent back and forth from one side of the court to the other and exploited his weaknesses. He went on to win his second gold medal of the day without even dropping a game, 8-0.
“It’s fantastic,” Dunkin said. “It was my goal to win three medals (of any kind) in March and I’m almost there.”
Dunkin still had to compete in the mixed doubles, where he hoped to complete the trifecta of medaling in three different events. On Thursday he will also compete with Akin in the golf competition.
Once the competition is over, Akin and Dunkin will likely go back their homes in New Jersey and Tennessee, respectively. And while they may not live the exact same lives, one thing is certain. Both will ride into the sunset in their Corvettes with a gold medal around their necks.
And that is way cooler than Bert and Ernie.