WORLD TRANSPLANT GAMES: Su selected for Argentina

Su Tarling
Su Tarling

Former PE teacher training hard to compete in three sports

Former PE teacher Su Tarling is honoured to have been selected to represent Great Britain at the World Transplant Games next year.

Although it’s over ten years since her second liver transplant, Su only took part in the British Transplant Games for the first time this summer. Not knowing the level of competition Su had no expectation of medals, so was delighted to be on the podium in Bolton for all three of her events.

Su, 45, won gold in the 3k run and silvers in both the 50m breaststroke swim and 10k cycle road race, earning her the prospect of competing against the best in the world in Mar del Plata, Argentina next August. There the run will be over 5k and cycling 20k.

In the meantime Su faces months of hard work in all three disciplines, attending five training weekends for the squad and organising events to raise £2,500 towards her kit, travel and accommodation as there is no official funding for the squad.

No one is more proud of Su’s achievments than her father Jim Alder, who was a top distance runner for Scotland and Great Britain and ran in the 1968 Mexico Olympics.

Jim won Commonwealth Games marathon gold in 1966 and silver in 1970 as well as bronze over six miles in 1966. He also won European marathon bronze in 1969 and his world record over 30,000m, still stands today.

“The world games is going to be a big step up,” said Su, a member of Rugby & East Warwickshire Hockey Club for over 20 years.

“Before Bolton I had no idea what the level would be, but I did personal bests in all three events and managed to win medals. It will be the first time I’ve ever represented the country at anything so now I need to keep training hard every day and make sure I stay healthy.

“The games in Bolton were competitive but friendly,” she explained.

“It’s a big celebration. Everyone there has had a transplant. Some are very competitive but others are just elated to be alive. I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Su began feeling ill in January 2002, after returning to work from maternity leave at The Coleshill School. From being a fit and healthy PE teacher and Head of Year 10, her deterioration was so fast that when she had her first liver transplant on February 18 her husband Ed had been told she had just 24 hours to live.

It is not known what caused Su’s liver failure, but doctors believe it may have been a virus.

Unfortunately Su didn’t make the immediate recovery expected and was eventually diagnosed with a thrombosis in the main artery going into the liver, which would require a second transplant.

Fortunately that one, on June 12, 2003 - her son Josh’s second birthday - was a complete success. Su and Ed went on to adopt another baby, Libby, who is now seven.

Su, who grew up in the Northumberland town of Morpeth, now takes part in hospital counselling, talking to those awaiting or recovering from transplants.

“It’s nice to be able to help other people and helpful to remind me how far I’ve come,” she added.

“It reminds me how lucky I am. It’s very hard knowing someone lost a life for me to have the transplants and I felt guilty when the first one didn’t work.

“The games show how important organ donation is and help to increase the awareness of transplants.”

Transplant Sport UK has set up a Just Giving page for donations to help the athletes compete in Argentina. If anyone would like to help, please visit and search Su Tarling