Elmar Sprink, 45, a heart transplantee from Köln, Germany, will be racing in the XTERRA World Championship Qualifying Series season-opener in South Africa on February 25.
According to Sprink, after his heart transplant in June 2012, he had to once again learn how to sit, stand up and walk. “After having spent half a year in bed, I found that swimming was the perfect way to start training my muscles again. In January 2013 I started to jog, but only 700m at a time. It was then that I decided to return to triathlon racing as an attempt to create awareness around organ donation in Germany.”
2017 marks the 50-year anniversary of the first human-to-human heart transplant operation.
“Partaking in sport helps to minimise the side effects of the medication that heart transplantees have to take,” continues Sprink, who has been extraordinarily active since the transplant by running in marathons and racing Ironman triathlons.
“In my case, it also helps a lot from a psychological aspect. I am really looking forward to being in South Africa, enjoying the land and meeting new people. The Fedhealth XTERRA Grabouw has a nice combination of swimming, mountain biking and trail running. As with all the other events that I have participated in with my new heart, my goal will be to have fun and cross the finish line.”