Dame Mary Peters has thanked thousands of well-wishers for their support as she recovers from heart surgery. She is used to constantly being on the
Dame Mary Peters has thanked thousands of well-wishers for their support as she recovers from heart surgery.
She is used to constantly being on the move, but the former Olympian had to restrict herself to a three-quarter mile walk yesterday.
Keeping her spirits high has been a flood of support from sporting legends and countless others.
Speaking yesterday, Dame Mary said: “I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of goodwill messages. It helps my healing, that people care.
“I am so grateful to have this opportunity to extend my life as so many others don’t get that chance.”
Three weeks ago she underwent six hours of open heart surgery at the Royal Victoria Hospital.
She had been told that without it her life expectancy could have been as little as one year. Now in recovery, doctors have said it has added an extra 10 years to her life expectancy.
Although taking it slow for now, the 79-year-old said she can’t wait to get back to her busy schedule.
In particular, her Race to a Million challenge is seeking to secure the future of her Sporting Trust, which supports young athletes.
“I realise that people care about me and my trust and want to help me reach my goal of a million pounds by my 80th birthday, so many have already sent donations,” she said.
“My post is just full of lovely cards and messages and no bills.
“One card didn’t even have a full address and it started, ‘Dame Mary Peters National Treasure!'”
As well as the many wishing the 1972 Olympic gold medal-winning pentathlete a speedy recovery, her sporting friends have lined up to pay tribute to the longstanding patron of local sports.
They include Ireland rugby legends Mike Gibson and Nigel Carr, as well as ex-Olympians Ann Packer and Robbie Brightwell, who competed in the 1964 Tokyo Games.
Current tennis hopefuls Peter and Sam Bothwell added their support, having been helped on their sporting journey by the Mary Peters Trust.
Former Belfast Telegraph sports writer Jim Stokes, who had a similar operation to Dame Mary, also voiced his support. Another welcome surprise was a ‘get well’ card from ex-pupils at Dame Mary’s former school, Graymount Girls Secondary.
Gillian Hetherington, executive manager of the Mary Peters Trust, said the reaction on social media had been astounding.
“We had 13,000 impressions on our Twitter page after her interview with the Belfast Telegraph. Our Facebook page views even went up by 700%, with our post-engagement going up by 1,326%. I had to laugh, I didn’t even think you could get those types of numbers,” she said.
Source: Belfast Telegraph