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Athlete has a heart of gold at games

PUBLISHED: 16:54 15 August 2008 | UPDATED: 21:04 05 July 2010

A LOWESTOFT man, who was given a new heart just over two years ago, has won three gold medals at the British Transplant Games.

Joe Matthews took the 100m, 200m and long jump titles during the competition at the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield, the former home of the Commonwealth Games.

A LOWESTOFT man, who was given a new heart just over two years ago, has won three gold medals at the British Transplant Games.

Joe Matthews took the 100m, 200m and long jump titles during the competition at the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield, the former home of the Commonwealth Games.

He will now go forward to represent Great Britain during the world championships in Brisbane, Australia, having beaten the reigning European champion at both track events.

The 21-year-old was one of 600 competitors during the four-day games and was part of the group competing for Papworth Hospital, where Joe received some of his treatment.

When Joe, of Fleet Dyke Drive was given a transplant in April 2006, following a diagnosis of Cardiomypathy, he was at college in California.

He collapsed following a rugby game and was treated at Stanford University Hospital, which is why he chose to do much of his training for the games in America over the summer, while visiting his girlfriend.

He said: “I was training with my old cross fit trainer over there around three days a week, so it wasn't that hard. I was told about the games in the US and when I got back I spoke to the hospital at Papworth, who put me in touch with the team manager. He said it wasn't too late to get involved.”

With around 30 people on each team and more than 25 hospitals involved, it was no mean feat.

“I went there thinking that I could win and I was really pleased I did. I'm going to join the Waveney Athletics Club now,” said Joe.

Aside from his running success, Joe is still focusing on his graphic communications degree at the Norwich School of Art and Design and when he finishes he hopes to go and live in America permanently.

On his recent summer trip, he took part in a photo shoot for Stanford University Hospital with the head of the cardiomypathy association for the front cover of a magazine, which will be distributed across the world.

And he is going back to the hospital in October to give a speech on heart transplants.

Joe who once had dreams of a career in rugby, said that although he is now allowed to play again, his focus was on running, although it won't be the London Marathon, which he has already completed twice.

“I've always been into sprinting and I look forward to doing it. Taking part in the games was really good. Obviously the stadium wasn't packed, but you could really hear people shouting for you,” he said.


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